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Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel
For those interested in keeping up with events in Palestine/Israel, there is no better digest than VTJP.

VTJP Archives | VTJP 2009
5 January, 2008

Panic grips Gaza residents as Israel vows to press bloody offensive
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 1/6/2009
GAZA CITY: Heavy fighting between Israeli forces and Hamas fighters broke out in a densely populated area of Gaza City on Monday evening, as at least 12 children became some of the latest victims of the Israeli onslaught. Israeli troops battled Hamas fighters in Gaza’s main city for the first time Monday - after dozens died in a day of clashes - while the government fended off worldwide calls for a cease-fire. Amid raging combat in Gaza City, and as the Palestinian death toll rose to at least 555, French and Russian presidents Nicolas Sarkozy and Dmitry Medvedev both demanded a halt to the conflict. But Israeli ministers said the offensive would go on. Large explosions and heavy gunfire rocked the Shejaiya neighborhood of eastern Gaza City as night fell. Israeli military sources confirmed there were heavy clashes.

ISRAEL-OPT: Water, sewage system 'collapsing' in Gaza, says official
ICRC, IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 1/6/2009
GENEVA, 5 January 2009 (IRIN) - The UN has warned that power networks were down in large parts of the Gaza Strip on 4 January, with hospitals relying on generators. Without power for pumps, 70 percent of Gazans are estimated to be without tap water. Israel has been blocking fuel supplies, and stocks are dwindling, the latest (4 January) report by the UN’s humanitarian coordinator in the occupied Palestinian territories said. The Israeli Gisha organisation, an NGO, said seven of the 12 electricity lines in the enclave (the 12 lines normally supply about 70 percent of Gaza’s electricity) were down, and warned that the lack of power was causing sewage to flood into populated areas and farmland. There continued to be a risk of sustained flooding. "The water and sewage system in Gaza is collapsing, cutting people off from the water. . . "

Eighty-nine children and 30 women amongst Gaza’s confirmed dead
Press release, Al Mezan, Electronic Intifada 1/5/2009
On the 10th day of its aggression on the Gaza Strip, the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) has seriously escalated its military operations, targeting mostly civilian targets, particularly homes. Air strikes and artillery shells hit tens of homes. IOF also targeted medical facilities and ambulances. A Civil Defense team was hit as it tried to fight a fire following the bombardment of a clinic. IOF’s ground invasion into the Gaza Strip has expanded as troops and tanks landed from the sea south to Gaza City. Seventy-seven people have been killed in IOF’s attacks between 1pm yesterday and 2:30pm today. This includes 21 children and nine women. In addition, a medical rescue crew were killed during the same time period. Dozens have also been injured, most of whom were civilians. Targeting protected objects and persons represent flagrant disregard to the rules of international law relevant to

Gaza hospitals under fire
Ma’an News Agency 1/5/2009
Gaza/Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli forces fired in the immediate vicinity of three hospitals in the Gaza Strip on Monday, witnesses and medical personnel told Ma’an. The Al-Wafa Hospital eastern Gaza Strip received warning that they would be shelled, but the hosptial administration and staff refused to evacuate on account of the number of injured people being treated there. Some of the wounded have been injured so severely that they cannot be safely transferred. At Ash-Shifa Hospital, the largest in the Gaza Strip, Israeli warplanes bombed the offices ofthe Health Committees, about 400 meters from Ash-Shifa hospital. Last week warplanes bombed the Ash-Shifa Mosque, which is part of the medical compound. Israeli forces also shelled the parking lot of Al-Awda hospital in Jabaliya in northern Gaza. Spanish human rights worker at the hospital Alberto Arce reported, “Two. . .

Hundreds of thousands in Strip without water
Amira Hass, Ha’aretz 1/6/2009
Between 600,000 and 700,000 Gazans have no water, some of them going on a week. About one million have no electricity, raw sewage is running in the streets in some places and various localities, especially in the northern Gaza Strip, face the threat of sewer backups. Repairmen cannot easily get out to make repairs, due to the shelling and poor conditions of roads. The mobile and land-line phone networks in the Strip have been seriously damaged from both air strikes and the power shortages. Increasingly, Gazans have no way to contact relatives, local authorities or aid and emergency services, heightening their sense of panic and isolation. That is the picture of the Gazan infrastructure that emerges from the reports of residents and of the Deputy Director of the Coastal Municipalities Water Utility, Maher Najjar, and Maxwell Gaylard, UN Humanitarian Coordinator.

Injured Gaza family still awaits evacuation
Amira Hass, Ha’aretz 1/6/2009
As of last night, almost 48 hours after a shell struck the isolated A’aiedy family home in a farming area in the eastern Gaza Strip, all attempts to evacuate the injured family members have failed. Two 80-year-old women and three of their grandsons were injured in the strike, which destroyed part of the house. They have been treating the injuries with water and salt, but the wounds have become infected, the owner of the home, Hussein al-A’aiedy, says. Red Cross ambulances were unable to come near the area Sunday. Attempts by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) to coordinate evacuation also failed, and the family remains in one room in the yard of the damaged house. Late Sunday evening a Palestinian ambulance arrived to pick up injured people from a cluster of houses not far away. According to A’aiedy, the ambulance crew was also ready to pick up his injured family members, but the Israel Defense Forces would not let them.

Amira Hass / For 48 hours, gunbattles kept wounded Gaza family from medical aid
Amira Hass, Ha’aretz 1/6/2009
As of Monday evening, 48 hours after being wounded, all attempts to evacuate the A’aiedy family to hospital for treatment have been for naught. An IDF shell struck the family home situated in an agricultural expanse east of Gaza City. A section of the house was destroyed in the attack. Two women, both of them 80 years of age, and three of their grandchildren were wounded. Thus far they have treated their injuries with water and salt, though their wounds have become infected, according to a relative, Hussein Al A’aiedy. On Sunday, Red Cross ambulances could not approach the area of the home. Efforts by the non-governmental organization Physicians for Human Rights were also fruitless. The family is holed up in a room in the front section of the house. Late Sunday, a Palestinian ambulance arrived at a cluster of homes nearby in order to evacuate other wounded to hospital. -- See also: Hit in IDF shelling, family can't leave Gaza yard

Gaza war poses special physical, psychological threats for children
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 1/6/2009
GAZA CITY: The shelling is incessant, hospitals are overwhelmed, children are shell-shocked, the Gaza nights are miserably cold in the windowless homes. And residents fear their nightmare could worsen. After days of intense bombardment from the air, artillery shells are now pounding the Gaza Strip as resistance fighters respond with rocket-propelled grenades at Israeli tanks. Children, who make up more than half of the 1. 5 million population, are traumatized, living in fear of the next explosion that will shake their home. "Many kids have stopped eating. They are inactive, they barely talk, they cling to their parents all the time," said Sajy Elmaghinni, who works for the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Gaza. "Children are now scared of the dark, which is a major problem because there’s no electricity," added Elmaghinni, whose own home has been without power for five days.

Israelis deny using phosphorus
Richard Norton-Taylor, The Guardian 1/6/2009
The Guardian, Israeli military spokesmen deny that their forces have used phosphorus in Gaza, despite photographs and film of munitions showing similar characteristics to the potentially lethal shells. The Israelis have not said what kind of munitions they have been using, other than saying that their use is permitted under international law. Phosphorous shells are not illegal if they are used to create a smokescreen or to illuminate targets, rather than as a weapon against people, military experts and human rights campaigners said yesterday. Mark Garlasco, senior military analyst at Human Rights Watch, said it seemed from news films that Israel had used "artillery-delivered obscurants" which were not illegal. White phosphorus produces layers of thick white smoke when exposed to oxygen, but phosporous from an explosion will cause serious burns that can melt flesh to the bone and kill.

Besieged families flee homes for shelter under UN flag
Chris McGreal in Jerusalem, The Guardian 1/6/2009
Mahmoud Khalil looked around the classroom and decided the safest place for his children was under the desks. UN officials had reassured the father of five he and his family would be protected by the large blue and white flag flying above the UN-run school turned refugee shelter. But with the sound of large explosions on the edge of Jabaliya refugee camp, just north of Gaza City, and his children still terrified from the trauma of their escape, Khalil was taking no chances. "They will kill us anywhere. If they can bomb the mosque, if they can kill small children, if they can blow up our parliament, why should they care if they bomb this school? They don’t care what the United Nations thinks. They don’t care what the whole world thinks," he said, when reached by telephone.

Gaza babies at risk of hypothermia
Middle East Online 1/5/2009
LONDON - Newborn babies in Gaza are at risk of hypothermia because of freezing temperatures and a cut in the power supply, the British aid charity Save the Children warned on Monday. Most homes and hospitals in Gaza, where night-time temperatures drop to freezing point, are now without power and have no heating, it said, adding that people leave windows open to stop them shattering from bombardment. "We need to deliver more food and blankets to ensure that children do not die of hunger and cold," said Jerusalem-based Save the Children spokesman Dominic Nutt, cited in a statement by the charity. Referring to a European Union mission in the region, he added: "We want (British Prime Minister) Gordon Brown and all EU leaders to push for a ceasefire so that we have safe access to those people in need in Gaza.

Two strikes, and another family lay buried in rubble
Said Ghazali and Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem, The Independent 1/6/2009
The extended Abu Eysha family were asleep when their three-storey house five minutes from Gaza’s coast was hit by the first air attack early yesterday. Five minutes and another air strike later, Amer Abu Eysha, 50, who used to work as a tiler in Israel, his 30- year-old wife, Naheel, and three of his children lay dead under a pile of rubble. Yesterday the children’s uncle, Rashad Abu Eysha, said a missile fired by an Israeli F16 went through the second and first floors before exploding on the ground floor where his brother lived with his immediate family. The attack on the Palestinian refugee family became the third since the aerial bombardment of Gaza started 10 days ago to prompt a specific call for an independent investigation by the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). Relatives said the dead children dug out from piles of debris were Sayed, 13, Muhammad, nine, and Ghayda, seven.

VIDEO - ’As I ran I saw three of my children. All dead’
Hazem Balousha in Gaza City and Rory McCarthy in Jerusalem, The Guardian 1/6/2009
The small dead bodies were laid next to one another on the tiled floor of the morgue corridor, the blood drained from their cheeks. One had a bandage still wrapped around his head, another lay with his mouth half-open in his oversized, bloodstained clothes. For a week the Samouni family had taken shelter in their small, single-storey home in Zeitoun, south-east of Gaza City, and there they survived wave after wave of Israeli bombing and artillery strikes. Then came Israel’s ground offensive, the next phase in what Israel argues is a necessary and justified battle against the Palestinian militants firing rockets out of Gaza. The Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, promised an "iron fist" for Hamas and said he would treat the civilian citizens of Gaza with "silk gloves," though the Palestinians of Gaza know perhaps better than most that there are few silk gloves in war.

IDF shell kills Palestinian family of seven near Gaza City
Amir Hass and News Agencies, Ha’aretz 1/6/2009
The Israel Defense Forces killed seven members of a Palestinian family in a strike on their home in the Gaza Strip on Monday, Palestinian medical officials said. The attack at Beach refugee camp, on the outskirts of the city of Gaza, followed a separate shelling which killed three children and their mother, said medical officials. They said that at least 12 civilians had been killed on Monday in total. Blasts rocked Gaza overnight after IDF soldiers moved into a northern zone. Israeli forces had asked residents to leave their homes to avoid being hurt in the clashes with Hamas militants. Some families sought refuge in nearby United Nations run schools. A military spokeswoman said the air force bombed more than 30 targets, including homes of Hamas members used as weapons depots, tunnels and a suspected anti-aircraft rocket launcher.

Fares Akram: People are fleeing the north on donkey carts
The Independent 1/6/2009
When we woke up yesterdaymorning there were people on the streets for the first time in days. Whole families, girls, women, fathers, children. They appeared to be coming from the north of the Gaza Strip, fleeing their homes. The majority were walking, some were on donkey carts. There were a few cars and trucks but each had up to 10 people crushed inside. They were carrying their belongings, such things as mattresses and bed covers. My grandfather who lives with us, watched for a while and said:"This is exactly like the immigration of Palestinians into Gaza in 1948". Overnight there were more air strikes, heavy-artillery shelling and the tanks have been coming deeper into Gaza. So you can’t blame people for seeking safety. Alaa, my wife, nine months pregnant, is nervously hanging on and I’m thanking God she hasn’t gone into labour yet.

Gaza residents live in fear
Ali Waked, YNetNews 1/6/2009
Strip residents tell Ynet of life in shadow of IDF operation, ’People don’t walk near mosques for fear they will be bombed, don’t stand next to Hamas men’s houses’. Say men flee homes for fear of arrest; 30-40 people can be found crowded in one house - Israeli pressure on the Gaza Strip is taking its toll on residents, and sources said this, the tenth day of the IDF’s Operation Cast Lead, just might be the hardest on Hamas so far. Palestinians said wide areas of the northern Gaza Strip and Gaza City have suffered bombings from the air, ground and sea. Residents are on high alert and many have fled to the center of Gaza City for fear of being arrested. Most of the residents who remained in the northern Strip are those who were unable to escape or had nowhere to go. Meanwhile, those in Gaza City await the IDF.

A lottery of life and death for ambulance medics
Jack Shenker in Rafah, The Guardian 1/6/2009
On one side are the badly wounded, desperate to get out to medical attention; on the other are the bodybags of those who failed to make it waiting to be sent back in for burial. The no man’s land of Rafah’s border crossing, strewn with barbed wire and reverberating with nearby bomb blasts, is a grim patch between the Gazan and Egyptian borders. But for Dr Nadal bin-Afifi, though, it was the most reassuring thing he had seen all day. For the second time this week Afifi had made the perilous journey from his home in Gaza City down to the territory’s southern limits to ferry the injured across into Egypt. "My colleague was killed by an Israeli bomb while making the same trip three days ago," he said as volunteers rushed to unload his human cargo. "I can’t find the courage to tell my wife I’m doing this. "

AUDIO - Gaza: ’The ambulances don’t stop arriving’
Hazem Balousha, The Guardian 1/6/2009
Hazem Balousha visits Gaza’s Shifa hospital and meets grieving relatives [end]

Israel shells damage al-Awda hospital, Jabaliya
International Solidarity Movement 1/5/2009
2pm, Al-Awda hospital, Jabaliya, Gaza: The al-Awda hospital in northern Gaza has been damaged by two Israeli shells. Spanish Human Rights Activist Alberto Arce said;"Two consecutive shells just landed in the busy car park 15 meters from the entrance to the emergency room of the Al Awda hospital. The entrance of the emrgency rooml was damaged. At the time of the shelling Ambulances were bringing in the wounded that keep pouring in. Medical teams and facilities are being targeted. Nowhere is safe" Alberto Arce (Spain) - International Solidarity Movement This attack on the hospital come the day after four medics were killed by the Israeli military as they attempted to rescue injured people. Six Palestinian medical personnel have now been killed by Israeli attacks. On December 31st, medic Mohammed Abu Hassera was killed on the spot as his ambulance was shelled while trying to access the wounded.

OCHA release updates on the humanitarian crisis in Gaza
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 1/5/2009
OCHA, The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, issued a humanitarian update Sunday on the Gaza crisis since the Israeli military ground operation began. The report focuses on casualties, as well as food, health, water, sanitation and highest priority needs. The Report shows that all of Gaza City hospitals have been without main line electricity for the past 48 hours, leaving Gazans dependant on back-up generators. The hospitals warn that the generators are close to running out of fuel. OCHA reported that the military incursion compounded the humanitarian crisis, following more than a week of shelling and an 18 month-long blockade of the territory. There is an increased threat to civilians due to combat in densely populated urban areas. Hospitals continue to be overstretched because of the large number of casualties that have accumulated since the. . .

Civilian deaths mount in Gaza war
Al Jazeera 1/5/2009
Palestinian civilians are continuing to suffer as the Israeli military pushes deeper into the Gaza Strip. At least 548 people have been killed in the territory in the last 10 days, with at least 100 deaths reported since the Israeli ground offensive began on Saturday. Among the dead on Monday was a family of seven from Shati refugee camp, who were killed by Israeli navy shelling. Three siblings from one family, as well as a girl and her grandfather, also died in the Zeitoun neighbourhood of Gaza during artillery shelling. Emergency medical services have also come under attack with the al-Awda hospital in Jabaliya being hit by two Israeli shells, foreign human rights activists said. "Two consecutive shells just landed in the busy car park 15 metres from the entrance to the emergency room," Alberto Arce of the International Solidarity Movement said in a statement.

Gaza: Hundreds leave their homes and take refuge in UN schools
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 1/5/2009
Hundreds of Palestinian families have left their homes and taken refuge in UN run schools in Gaza on Monday. Local sources have reported that at least 500 families from the towns of Beit Hannon and Beit Lahyia, as well nearby villages, have left their homes in search of shelter at various UN schools. IMEMC correspondant in Gaza, Rami Al Meghari, talked to those families. Ihmedan Abu Ayiasha, age 48, left his home. "What can we do? " he asked. "We left our homes because Israeli tanks were shelling it. I came to run from the fire of the Israeli Army. " "I left everything, [even] my clothes" he added. "We have no food. The UN told us they have nothing to give us because Israel did not allow aid into Gaza. " Adnan Abu Hassna, the spokesman for the United Nation Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA) for Palestinian refugees in Gaza said that his agency is doing what it can.

Dark and cold Gaza waits for humanitarian help
Middle East Online 1/5/2009
GAZA CITY- Frantic families across Gaza cowered in any shelter they could find on Monday morning as the Israeli army’s onslaught continued into another day. The dawn sky was lit by orange streaks from tank shells and warplane missiles while Hamas heavy machine guns took speculative shots at Israeli jets above the enclave of 1. 5 million people. Israeli infantry and resistance fighters fought in the Zeitoun suburb of Gaza City amid anxiety that the new day could bring an escalation of clashes in other parts of the territory’s main city. Fear was stoked up further by recorded messages sent to people’s telephones. "The Israeli army will use stronger force against Hamas," said one Israeli propaganda message received early on Monday. Another Israeli propaganda message sent was "Hamas’s leadership is bringing you destruction.

Gazans: ’We face a dark destiny’
Al Jazeera 1/5/2009
As Israeli forces push deeper into the Gaza Strip and the death toll continues to rise, Al Jazeera hears from some of the Gazans we first spoke to during the aerial bombardment. They describe the humanitarian situation on the ground in Gaza and explain how the Israeli ground offensive is affecting them. Majed Badra, 23, Gaza City, cartoonist and student at the Islamic University "Last night was difficult - all of Gaza was under darkness. There is no TV because there is no electricity, so all the time we sit and wait and hear news on the radio about what the Israeli forces are doing and what our resistance can do and how many of our people they have killed. I am used to air-raids and hearing the tanks come into Gaza and we are used to hearing reports on the radio in the dark. . . "

U.S. to foil any Arab bid to push Security Council resolution for Gaza cease-fire
Shlomo Shamir , and Reuters, Ha’aretz 1/6/2009
The United States is determined to thwart any Arab initiative aimed at forcing the UN Security Council to assume a direct role in the Gaza crisis. Reliable sources at the UN say that the U. S. ambassador to the UN, Zalmay Khalilzad, has received explicit instructions from his superiors at the State Department to torpedo any initiative proposed by the Arab bloc which is designed to grant the Security Council the status of an official arbiter that will have direct involvement with disentangling the Gaza crisis. This directive can explain Washington’s persistent opposition to even a non-binding declarative statement issued by the Council, as it did during an emergency meeting late Saturday night. The U. S. policy means that the Arab foreign ministers who arrived in New York on Sunday in an effort to advance a Libyan cease-fire. . .

Israel trying to delay UN Security Council meeting
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 1/5/2009
Jerusalem making diplomatic efforts to postpone meeting and prevent further international pressure on Israel to stop fighting in Gaza. Meanwhile Olmert, Livni continue to promote US-led initiative for truce - Israel is making diplomatic efforts to postpone a UN Security Council meeting scheduled for Wednesday, in order to prevent further international pressure from being exerted on the country to halt its military operation in Gaza. Israel’s political leadership has yet to decide who should represent Israel at the meeting. Top ministers are concerned that if Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is present at the discussion, this could validate any decision made by the Security Council and leave Israel exposed to even more pressure. Livni has already noted that "even if the Security Council reaches an anti-Israeli resolution, this would not stop the military campaign against Hamas.

UN contradicts Israel over depth of crisis in Gaza
Associated Press, Jerusalem Post 1/6/2009
The United Nations said Monday there is an "increasingly alarming" humanitarian crisis in Gaza, directly contradicting Israeli denials that any such predicament has followed its military offensive. UN humanitarian chief John Holmes told reporters Monday that UN officials believe as many as 25 percent of the 500 people killed in the fighting are civilians and that Gaza’s health system is "increasingly precarious" due to the more than 2,500 injured. He said Gaza is running low on clean water, power, food, medicine and other supplies since Israel began launching a heavy attack on the Hamas that controls Gaza’s government, first with airstrikes and then with troops and tanks. Israeli leaders have maintained consistently there is no humanitarian crisis for the Palestinians living in the densely populated territory, and that they have been keeping the border crossings open and are delivering vital supplies.

Arab ministers hold UN Gaza talks
Al Jazeera 1/6/2009
Arab foreign ministers have held talks at the United Nations in New York to press the Security Council for action over the crisis in Gaza. The meeting on Monday of the Palestinian, Egyptian and other ministers with Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, follows a US decision to block a Libyan-backed proposal for the UN to call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza last weekend. Al Jazeera’s Ghida Fakhry at the UN in New York said UN sources now described the Libyan proposal as "dead" and said a new proposed resolution was being mooted by the French, current president of the council, who were attempting to gain Arab support for it. UN sources said the proposed new resolution would have three main points: An urging for an immediate ceasefire, the formation of some sort of "humanitarian corridor" for much-needed aid and a form of "monitoring mechanism" for the ceasefire.

Livni: Deal with Hamas would abolish peace process
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 1/5/2009
Foreign minister holds press conference ahead of European diplomats’ arrival in Jerusalem as part of efforts to reach ceasefire in Gaza. Any pact with terrorists means hindering chance for future peace agreement, she says - Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni held a press conference in Jerusalem on Monday ahead of the arrival in Jerusalem of European diplomats attempting to reach a ceasefire pact between Israel and Hamas. Before the operation in Gaza Hamas fired at Israel whenever it felt like it, she said, adding that this would not longer be the equation in the region. "When Israel is attacked, it will respond," she noted. Livni stressed that "a necessary war on terror does not end with an agreement. We don’t sign agreements with terror; we fight terror. "

Israel seeking ceasefire arrangement that excludes Hamas
Ma’an News Agency 1/5/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an/Agencies – Israel is seeking a diplomatic agreement to end the war in Gaza, as long as the deal excludes one of the parties to the conflict: Hamas. According to a decision made on Sunday by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Israel will press for this arrangement with European leaders who are in the region on Monday in an effort to bring about a ceasefire. Olmert will meet on Monday with French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Livni will meet three foreign ministers from Europe, including French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner. On Saturday night the US blocked an attempt at the United Nations Security Council to pass a binding ceasefire resolution proposed by Libya. At the Israeli cabinet meeting on Sunday, Livni said that Israel’s own diplomatic efforts had “foiled that attempt,” according to a statement sent be the foreign ministry.

Ehud Barak: Operation going as planned
Globes Online 1/5/2009
"Gaza is partly encircled. Hamas has suffered a very heavy blow. ""The operation is going as planned. Gaza is partly encircled and our forces are meeting their targets. Since the start of the operation, 500 people have been killed in Gaza, mostly members of Hamas. Our forces have suffered one dead, four seriously wounded, and eight moderately wounded," Minister of Defense Ehud Barak told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee today. Barak continued, "I send my condolences to the family that lost its son and to the families of the wounded. The decision to launch the campaign was a calculated one. We didn’t go to battle in haste, we were forced to take this action. The goal of the operation is very simple, to change the security reality in southern Israel. We are adamant in creating this new reality of no violence coming out of Gaza, not towards our civilians or towards our soldiers.

Al-Qassam Brigades threaten to target Israeli nuclear site, take more prisoners
Ma’an News Agency 1/5/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The Al-Qassam Brigades threatened to widen their projectile attacks in a broadcast addressing Israelis aired on Hamas’ Al-Aqsa TV Monday. “We promise you that our target-sites will be vulnerable at all times and open to attack any time of day,” said Hamas’ military wing spokesman Abu Ubayda. “We will expand our targets,” he said. ”Tel Aviv and the Israeli nuclear site at Dimona have not yet been targeted, said Abu Ubayda, but we will not hesitate to launch projectiles at these sites if Israel continues its attack at the one and a half million people of the Gaza Strip. Our targets will also become the soldiers now in Israel, the spokesman assured. “Your fried Gilad Shalit is missing and we promise to bring him company. ” Your land invasion will do nothing but insure the return of Palestinian prisoners when we swap them for the Israeli soldiers.

Hamas delegation visits Cairo to discuss means of halting IOF aggression
Palestinian Information Center 1/5/2009
DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- A delegation of the Hamas Movement is set to travel to Egypt on Monday for talks with Egyptian officials on means of halting the Israeli occupation forces’ aggression on the Gaza Strip that entered its tenth consecutive day. Official Hamas sources told PIC that the delegation received an invitation from the Egyptian government last Friday. They noted that the invitation said that it was for a discussion of Gaza events, how to get out of the current situation and means of halting the aggression, and added that the Hamas delegates would listen to what the Egyptians have to say. The sources said that Hamas has its own vision on means of dealing with the current situation mainly represented in halting aggression, lifting the siege and opening all crossings. They said that any political initiative could be tabled only after halting the aggression, and expected. . .

Hamas: We accepted an Egyptian invitation for talks in Cairo
George Rishmawi, International Middle East Media Center News 1/5/2009
A high-ranking Hamas official confirmed on Monday that his movement has accepted an Egyptian invitation for cease-fire talks in Cairo. Osama Hamdan, member of Hamas’ politcal buro said in Damascus that Hamas will send a delegation to Cairo soon for talks in a bid to reach a cease-fire. Hamdan also said that Israel has failed to stop the Palestinian resistance in the Gaza Strip, adding that the resistance is firing home-made shells at Israel on a scheduled manner. Earlier, the UN Security Council had failed to reach a Libyan-proposed cease-fire resolution in Gaza, as the US rejected the proposal. Arab leaders expressed dissatisfaction. Meanwhile, Europe has sent diplomats to boost the effort. So far, a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip seems to be far from being reached after ten days of the Israeli offensive against the Gaza Strip.

Egypt’s Mubarak to EU: Hamas must not be allowed to win
Barak Ravid Avi Issacharoff and Zvi Bar'el, Ha’aretz 1/6/2009
Hamas must not be allowed to win its conflict with the Israel Defense Forces, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak told a delegation of European foreign ministers in a closed conversation Monday. The comment occurred even as Hamas, for the first time since the fighting began, sent representatives to Cairo to discuss a cease-fire. Following a meeting with Egyptian intelligence officials, Hamas officials said they had received an Egyptian proposal and would consider it. Also Monday, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who was visiting Jerusalem, that Israel would not honor a cease-fire imposed by the UN Security Council without its consent. Arab states are currently pushing for a Security Council resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire.

Egypt government feels its people’s ire
Per Bjoerklund, Electronic Intifada 1/5/2009
Thousands of Egyptians have taken to the streets to protest the continuing Israeli aggression against Gaza and the participation of the Egyptian regime in the isolation of its population. Last Wednesday, the state responded with a major crackdown in which tens of protestors and journalists were assaulted and arrested. Around the Arab world, the Egyptian regime has been a target of severe criticism for its continuing role in the ongoing siege of the Gaza Strip and its silence in the face of intense Israeli bombardment of the enclave. Last Tuesday, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak responded to the criticism by announcing in a televised speech that the Rafah border crossing will remain closed until the Palestinian Authority led by president Mahmoud Abbas regains control of the Gaza strip -- a statement that only strengthened the impression that Mubarak approves of the Israeli military action against Hamas, perceived by the regime as a natural ally of the internal islamic opposition in Egypt.

Jordan ’reconsidering Israel ties’
Al Jazeera 1/5/2009
Jordan’s prime minister has said his country may review its diplomatic ties with Israel in the wake of the offensive in Gaza. "Jordan will look into all options, including reconsidering relations with Israel," Nader Dahabi told legislators on Sunday. "There is no way we would remain silent when this threat affects the security of the entire region. "Jordan and Egypt are the only two Arab states to have normalised relations with Israel. Amman also has strong ties with the US. But with public criticism mounting, the government is facing pressure to [appear to] rethink those diplomatic links. Earlier thousands of students from universities across Jordan marched to the parliament in Amman demanding the freezing of diplomatic relations with Israel and the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador.

Jordan’s Queen Rania: Palestinian lives not collateral
Ma’an News Agency 1/5/2009
Bethlehem - Ma’an/Agencies - Jordan’s Palestinian queen appealed on Monday for international actors to place urgent concern on the humanitarian plight of civilians in Gaza. The Jordanian queen called on the international community to urgently step up its emergency aid to victims of Israel’s military operations in the Gaza Strip, saying the ongoing work to help civilians caught in the assault is "incomplete. " Along with other United Nations officials at a news conference in the Jordanian capital city of Amman on Monday, Rania said governments around the world should heed the UN’s Palestine refugee agency UNRWA’s call for USD $34 million in emergency aid for the besieged coastal strip. "Gaza’s children, the dead and the barely living, their mothers [and] their fathers are not acceptable collateral damage; their lives do matter and their loss does count," Rania told reporters in Amman.

Cairo aborted proposal for holding emergency Islamic summit
Palestinian Information Center 1/5/2009
CAIRO, (PIC)-- Egypt has objected to and foiled an Iranian idea to hold an emergency Islamic summit conference to discuss the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip after earlier aborting the convening of an Arab summit. Ambassador Naela Jabr, the Egyptian foreign minister’s assistant, said in a press statement that Cairo did not find any use of such a summit in the light of the inter-Palestinian differences. She claimed that a big number of members of the Islamic conference organization supported the Egyptian position. The diplomat said that her country objected to holding the summit without "adequate preparations", and questioned the use of issuing a summit statement at a time when the Palestinians were divided. Priority should be directed towards halting the aggression and ending the internal Palestinian strife, Jabr elaborated.

Sarkozy chastises both sides, insists ’violence must halt’
Daily Star 1/6/2009
European envoys dispatched to bring a stop to 10 days of bloodshed in the Gaza Strip on Monday renewed demands for a truce and met with Egyptian, Palestinian and Israeli officials. French President Nicolas Sarkozy said that he would tell Israel "the violence must halt" in Gaza, while Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called for an "unconditional" truce. Sarkozy also criticized Hamas, the Islamist movement which rules the Gaza Strip, saying it had acted in an "irresponsible and unforgivable" way by retaliating with rockets to Israeli attacks. "I will tell [Israeli] President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in all frankness that the violence must halt," said the French president, who was scheduled to meet Israeli leaders in Occupied Jerusalem later on Monday. Abbas called "for an immediate and unconditional end to the Israeli aggression against my people in the Gaza Strip.

Erdogan blames Israel, Hamad charges ’war crime’ and Mauritania pulls envoy
Daily Star 1/6/2009
Regional leaders have stepped up their criticism of Israel’s blistering assault on the Gaza Strip, as Mauritania withdrew its ambassador to the Zionist state in protest and Turkey’s premier accused Israel of provoking the outbreak of fighting. For its part, Qatar continued to push for an emergency Arab summit over the Gaza attacks, which the nation’s emir described as a "war crime. ""The Israeli aggression against our people in the Gaza Strip is a war crime," Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani said late Sunday in a televised address. He also renewed an earlier call on fellow Arab leaders to hold an extraordinary summit in support of Gaza. "The mobilization on the Arab street and several peace movements in the world have proven that this is the least the people expect from us. I believed and still do that we can do something," the emir said.

Israel: Erdogan’s words ’unacceptable’
Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post 1/5/2009
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s toxic comments Sunday that Israel’s actions in the Gaza Strip would lead to punishment from Allah and Israel’s "self-destruction" drew a protest from the Foreign Ministry, which told Turkey’s ambassador to Israel that these words were "unacceptable" among friendly nations. Erdogan, speaking at a municipal election campaign rally in Anatolia, said Israel was "perpetrating inhuman actions which would bring it to self-destruction. Allah will sooner or later punish those who transgress the rights of innocents. " While the Foreign Ministry registered a protest with the Turkish ambassador, it did not issue a formal statement about the remarks - not wanting, according to diplomatic officials, to exacerbate the already tense situation with the Turks. While Erdogan, who returned Sunday from an unsuccessful tour to the region. . .

Sarkozy to make lightning visit to Israel
Globes Online 1/5/2009
Israel seeks an international settlement in Gaza that will not include Hamas. French President Nicolas Sarkozy will visit Israel today and meet Prime Minister Ehud Olmert this evening. In a telephone call with Sarkozy, Olmert said that Israel was allowing the flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza, even as military operations continue. Olmert told Sarkozy, "Israel cannot stop its military operation until it achieves the military goals set. " Sarkozy said yesterday, "Hamas is responsible for the suffering of the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip. "He nevertheless urged a cease-fire when Israel launched its ground offensive. Last night, Olmert spoke by telephone with a number of international figures, including Sarkozy and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev, in an effort to promote a cease-fire that serves Israel’s interests.

Gaza battles rage as envoys appeal for truce
Nidal al-Mughrabi, Reuters, The Independent 1/5/2009
Israeli tanks, planes and ground forces pounded Gaza today and the defence minister said the offensive against Hamas militants in the Palestinian enclave would go on until Israel was safe. International efforts to secure a ceasefire moved ahead with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Middle East special envoy Tony Blair visiting the region, but they seemed able to offer little beyond words. The death toll in besieged Gaza rose on Monday to at least 530 people. Victims included three Palestinian children and their mother when a tank shell hit their home in Gaza City and seven members of another family were killed in a refugee camp. The Israeli army said "many dozens" of Islamist fighters had been killed since ground troops went in on Saturday in a stated attempt to end rocket fire by Hamas into southern Israel.

Sarkozy heads out for Gaza peace push
Agencies, The Independent 1/5/2009
The French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s office says he has left for the Middle East to meet with Israeli, Palestinian and other regional leaders in a push to end the fighting in Gaza. News of the visit came as it was reported that an Israeli shell killed three Palestinian children. And the UN chief urged the divided Security Council to work toward a speedy end to the escalating crisis. Sarkozy’s two-day trip starts in Sharm el-Sheikh with lunch with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. The French leader then goes to Ramallah for talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and to Jerusalem to see Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Sarkozy will also go to Syria and Lebanon. His office says he is seeking "paths for peace" in Gaza. France has been active in diplomatic efforts toward a cease-fire.

Sarkozy calls for Gaza ceasefire
News agencies, YNetNews 1/5/2009
French president arrives in Middle East, urges both sides to hold fire, negotiate truce, says ’the guns must fall silent, there must be a humanitarian truce’ - French President Nicolas Sarkozy, on a peacemaking mission to the Middle East, called on Monday for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas fighters in the Gaza Strip "as soon as possible". Addressing a news conference in Ramallah with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Sarkozy said the European Union was working to support efforts to end the bloodshed. He said he would tell Israeli leaders later in the day that the violence must stop. He also condemned Hamas for its attacks on Israel. "We in Europe want a ceasefire as quickly as possible, and that everyone understands that time is running against peace," Sarkozy said.

Israeli airline secretly flying UN peacemakers around the world
Zohar Blumenkrantz, Ha’aretz 1/6/2009
While the United Nations works feverishly towards a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, Israeli airline Arkia has been discreetly flying special flights around the world for UN troops as part of an international tender it won in 2008, Haaretz has learned. Last month, on the eve of the Gaza operation, Arkia flew 125 UN peacekeepers from Nigeria to and from their assignment in Haiti in a Boeing 757-300 aircraft, refueling en route in Entebbe, Uganda and the island nation of Cape Verde. The flight took off from Ben-Gurion International Airport without passengers on December 18, loaded the peacekeepers in Nigeria and left for Haiti. There it dropped the fresh peacekeepers off and received a new load of returning troops for the flight back to Nigeria. Within 48 hours, the plane was back in Israel.

Gaza diplomacy gathers pace
Al Jazeera 1/5/2009
Israel has rejected European proposals for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and the deployment of international observers following talks with a high-level European Union delegation in Jerusalem. The rejection came as Hamas said it would send a delegation to Egypt for ceasefire negotiations and several other countries, including Iran, Syria and Russia, stepped up their diplomatic efforts to end the Israeli offensive in Gaza. Following talks with Tzipi Livni, Israel’s foreign minister, Karel Schwarzenberg, her Czech counterpart and head of the EU delegation, on Monday said "a ceasefire should be applied as soon as possible". Livni reiterated her country’s position that it was Hamas and not the Palestinian people that were the targets and said: "This is a war against terror.

Olmert claims his army discriminates between fighters and civilians
Ma’an News Agency 1/5/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on Sunday night that Israel would not allow a humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip claiming that his soldiers distinguish between Palestinian fighters and unarmed civilians. “The army fights resistance fighters and at the same time offers humanitarian aid to the population,” Olmert claimed. According to medical officials in Gaza, more than 100 of the Palestinians killed since the beginning of Israel’s intense bombing of Gaza were civilians. Olmert’s comments came during a telephone call with the Russian president Dimitri Medvedev, the French president Nikola Sarkozy, and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Reports say that Olmert met last night with the international Quartet envoy Tony Blair.

Hariri confident Hizbullah won’t be suckered into new war
Daily Star 1/6/2009
Parliamentary majority leader Saad Hariri dismissed concerns on Monday that Hizbullah might launch attacks on Israel’s northern border to support Palestinians coping with the Zionist state’s deadly assault on the Gaza Strip. "Yesterday, Hizbullah said that they would do nothing. I think that’s a good thing for Lebanon," he said in Paris after having lunch with French Prime Minister Francois Fillon. "Lebanon’s political parties know well what would be the consequences of a war with Israel today. We can see what is happening in Gaza and I’m sure that Hizbullah will make no bad mistake this time," he added. Hariri made the remarks as France is engaged in a diplomatic campaign to rally international support for a renewed cease-fire in Gaza. In July and August 2006, Israel waged a destructive war on Lebanon after a cross-border raid by Hizbullah aimed at capturing soldiers to exchange for Lebanese held in Israel.

Israel intensifies violations of Lebanon’s airspace
Daily Star 1/6/2009
BEIRUT: Israel’s air force stepped up reconnaissance flights over Beirut on Monday after a senior Israeli intelligence chief warned politiciansthat Hizbullah could launch an attack across the Lebanese border. Several Israeli warplanes violated Lebanese airspace on Monday, flying over Hizbullah’s political strongholds in Beirut’s southern suburbs. Speaking to The Daily Star hours after the flights, Hizbullah spokesman Hussein Rahhal condemned the "aggressive actions. " "They are violating Resolution 1701," he said, referring to the United Nations Security Council decision that brought an end to hostilities between Israel and Lebanon in 2006. The overflights come the day after Major General Amos Yadlin, the head of Israeli military intelligence, told the country’s cabinet that a response from Hizbullah to Israel’s onslaught in Gaza was a possibility.

Hezbollah will stay out of fight
Middle East Online 1/5/2009
PARIS - Leading Lebanese politician Saad Hariri on Monday dismissed concerns that Hezbollah might seize upon the fighting in Gaza to renew attacks on Israel’s northern border. "Yesterday, Hezbollah said that they would do nothing. I think that’s a good thing for Lebanon," said Hariri, who is leader of the biggest parliamentary bloc in Lebanon’s ruling coalition. "Lebanon’s political parties know well what would be the consequences of a war with Israel today. We can see what is happening in Gaza and I’m sure that Hezbollah will make no bad mistake this time," he said. Hariri was speaking in Paris, after having lunch with Prime Minister Francois Fillon at a time when France is engaged in a diplomatic campaign to rally international support for a renewed ceasefire in Gaza. Israel waged a bloody 34-day war on Lebanon in the summer of 2006 after Hezbollah fighters seized two. . .

Lebanese official: Beirut won’t be dragged into war with Israel
AFP, YNetNews 1/5/2009
Lebanese Minister of Information says country will not enter conflict with Israel, saying ’Lebanon has no interest in living a new war in the south’. Minister adds Hizbullah agrees with this position - Lebanon will not be dragged into another war with Israel and Hizbullah agrees with this position, Lebanese Minister of Information Tarek Mitri, said Monday. "Lebanon does not want to be dragged into this conflict (in Gaza). . . and we have received no evidence indicating that Hizbullah might engage the country in this war," he added. According to the Mitri, the Lebanese government has already "stressed the importance of unity among the Lebanese and stability" in the country. "Hizbullah agrees with this position. We have not heard the minister of Hizbullah (in government) say the opposite," he continued.

Gaza journalist mourns father killed by Israeli strike
Middle East Online 1/5/2009
LONDON - A Palestinian journalist working for a British newspaper in Gaza described in an article Monday how the conflict became a personal tragedy when his father was killed in an Israeli airstrike. Fares Akram wrote in the Independent how his father Akrem al-Ghoul died on Saturday as Israeli tanks rolled into Gaza after a week of airstrikes. "The phone call came at around 4. 20 pm on Saturday. A bomb had been dropped on the house at our small farm in northern Gaza. My father was walking from the gate to the farmhouse at the time," Akram wrote. He described the farmhouse north-west of Beit Lahiya as a "beloved place" where his father had decided to stay to look after their dairy cows when the Israeli military operations began. "But shortly before sunset on Saturday, as Israeli ground troops and tanks invaded Gaza in the name of shutting down Hamas rocket sites, the peace. . . -- See also: The death and life of my father

’Everyone is looking for their relatives to kiss them goodbye’
The Guardian,Tuesday 6 January 2009, The Guardian 1/6/2009
Hani Abu Komail, 42, married with two children in Gaza City - I live in the centre of where they bombed at the beginning. Behind me is a police compound which they bombed and in front of me is the presidential palace which they also bombed. I was living on the seventh floor of my building but we moved downstairs to my brother’s house on the first floor in the same building. Every day we follow the same routine. We try to sleep from 6pm to 6am because there is no electricity. When we sleep we turn the radio up to cover the noise of the drones flying overhead and the bombs. Every day we go out looking for water, food and bread. I’m always buying batteries for the radio. We haven’t had electricity for five days and fuel is low so we turn the generator on for two hours a day to charge up our mobile phones and lights.

Orthodox Christmas in Bethlehem a subdued affair in 2009
Ma’an News Agency 1/5/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Christmas on the eastern Orthodox calendar on Wedensday will be a subdued affair in light of the Israeli war on Gaza, officials in the West Bank City of Bethlehem say. Bethlehem Police Chief Abdul-Jabbar Burqan said that his officers have completed preparations for the celebration, including easing restrictions on movement throughout the city. The heads of Palestinian churches and the Palestinian Authority have cancelled public celebrations, including the traditional boy and girl scout parades. The lights on Manger Square will not be lit. Religious rituals will go ahead as planned. Leaders of the Syrian Church, the Roman Church and Ethiopian Church will be received in the Manger Square from 8:30am to 3:30pm. Palestinian police in Bethlehem in the southern West Bank completed preparation for Christmas Eve according to eastern calendar on Tuesday, says director of Bethlehem police Abdul-Jabbar Burqan.

Sewage polluting desert and sea with no solution in sight
Zafrir Rinat, Ha’aretz 1/6/2009
Sewage from East Jerusalem and Palestinian communities near Bethlehem are polluting the Judean Desert and Dead Sea, but Israel and the Palestinian Authority have not been able to agree on a solution. Last year, Israel drafted a special program for diverting the Kidron Stream into the Jordan Valley. However, a senior official at the Environmental Protection Ministry said the plan has yet to be authorized, and in any case fails to address the sewage problem. Millions of cubic meters of waste from East Jerusalem and communities around Bethlehem flow into the Kidron Stream Valley and are eventually dumped into the Dead Sea. Last year the Jordan Valley Regional Council’s water association released a proposal for building facilities to divert the waste for purification and irrigation. Shoni Goldberger, the ministry official in charge of the Jerusalem area, said the facility cost. . .

ISRAEL-OPT: Bedouins lack protection from incoming rockets
Tom Spender/IRIN, IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 1/6/2009
NEGEV, 5 January 2009 (IRIN) - Israeli cities and towns within range of Palestinian militants’ rockets fired from Gaza have air raid shelters, but Bedouins in the Negev desert outside Beer Sheba, southern Israel, say they are being treated unfairly and have nowhere to hide. In the past week the incoming rocket danger zone in Israel has been extended to include areas in which Bedouins live, but the latter say there is no warning system in the area. They also say they have not been contacted by the Home Front Command about how to protect themselves. The estimated 180,000 Bedouins in the Negev are Israeli citizens and many serve in the army. Several Grad missiles (larger and more deadly than Kassams) have exploded in Beer Sheba in the past week. But while children in Beer Sheba are kept indoors and schools are shut, Bedouin children are left unprotected, say the Bedouins.

IOF troops slaughter two Palestinian families
Palestinian Information Center 1/5/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- IOF troops have committed Monday morning two hideous massacres against two Palestinian families consisting of fathers, mothers and eight children in the Gaza Strip when they bombed their homes. The PIC reporter said that the Israeli naval artillery shelled a house in the Shati refugee camp, west of Gaza city, which led to the death of an entire family made up of five children and their parents. The reporter added that soon after the first attack, the Israeli artillery also razed another house to the ground killing a Palestinian family of three children and both parents. On Sunday, the IOF troops had killed a father and three of his sons along with their relatives when they bombed his house in the Rafah city, south of Gaza. An Israeli air raid yesterday on a house in the Gaza city led to the death of two children and the injury of others of the same family.

Please support ISM Palestine’s work in Gaza and the West Bank
International Solidarity Movement 1/5/2009
Dear Friends - Volunteers with the ISM from various countries are right now in Gaza, witnessing, documenting and reporting on the Israeli massacre that started December 27. They arrived on the Free Gaza Movements boats that have repeatedly broken Israel’s illegal blockade of Gaza; some have been in Gaza since August. Because they on are on the ground in Gaza, these international volunteers are able to see first hand what is really going on. The eyewitness information and photographs they have been able to get out expose the true nature of Israeli war crimes. ISMvolunteers in the West Bank have been primarily working in East Jerusalem, Ni’lin, Bil’in, and the Hebron and Nablus regions. They work in coordination with the local residents in providing solidarity against ethnic cleansing by residing with local families in threatened areas, supporting. . .

It’s really hard to post from here
Eva Bartlett, International Solidarity Movement 1/5/2009
Every time I manage to make itback to Gaza to write for a period, a new calamity. "They’re shelling Awda hospital," in Jabaliya, the news reports. Our internationals there at the moment report it was two shells at a police post next to the hospital, one hospital worker getting shrapnel to the head, but surviving. The numbers slaughtered and injured are so high now -521 and 3,000 as of this morning, Gaza time "” that sitting next to a dead or dying person is becoming normal. The stain of blood on the ambulance stretcher pools next to my coat, the medic warning me my coat may be dirtied. What does it matter? The stain doesn’t revolt me as it would have, did, one week ago. Death fills the air, the streets in Gaza, and I cannot stress that this is no exaggeration.

Jabalia - 4th Jan 6pm - 5th Jan 5pm
Sharon in Gaza, International Solidarity Movement 1/5/2009
6pm: To Al Awda hospital, run by the Union of Health Work Committees. It normally has a 50 bed capacity but has been stretched to 75. E and Mo interview Ala’a, the medic from Jabalia RC who was injured when Arafa was killed yesterday. The story goes as follows: It was about 8. 30 am Saturday morning in Jabalia. Five teenagers found themselves under shell attack and tried to get away. Three escaped. One, Tha’er, 19, had his foot blown off. His friend Ali, also 19, tried to pick him up and carry him to safety, but was shot in the head and killed. It took 75- 90 minutes before a Jabalia Red Crescent ambulance could reach them. Medic Arafa, 35, and Ala’a, 22, carried Tha’er to the ambulance, and then went back for Ali’s body.

Medical committee appeals for Ramallah-area blood donors
Ma’an News Agency 1/5/2009
Ramallah - Ma’an - A Qatari-run medical committee within the International Red Crescent is accepting blood donations in Ramallah next Thursday, according to a statement. The Qatari Red Crescent and other health organizations announced the campaign, which is to take place next Thursday at the Ramallah-El-Bireh Baladna Cultural Center. Medical staff will be on hand from 9:00am-5:00pm for people interested in donating blood for injured Palestinians in Gaza. The committee specified that it is particularly interested in people with the O- blood type. [end]

AUDIO - Interview with Alberto Arce regarding the Israeli attacks on Palestinian medical personnel
International Solidarity Movement 1/5/2009
Gaza Region - Audio - Interview with Alberto Arce, International Solidarity Movement, concerning IOF attacks on medical personnel and centres. [end]

Deal to admit journalists aborted
Toni O'Loughlin in Jerusalem, The Guardian 1/6/2009
Plans to allow journalists into Gaza were aborted yesterday after Israel’s military said it was too dangerous to keep staff at the Erez passenger terminal to allow people to cross into the besieged territory. Israel argues that excluding the international media from Gaza is helpful because foreign journalists are unethical and biased in their reporting. Foreign journalists are "unprofessional" and take "questionable reports at face value without checking", said Danny Seaman, who heads Israel’s government press office, which vets and issues permits to foreign correspondents. Seaman said it was not Israel’s responsibility to give foreign media access to Gaza. "They should have been there in the first place," before Israel began restricting access on 6 November, said Seaman. "We are not going to endanger the lives of our people just to let journalists in.

Palestine Today 050109
Ghassan Bannoura - Audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center News 1/5/2009
Click on Link to download or play MP3 file || 4 m 00s || 3. 66 MB ||Welcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Center www. imemc. org, for Monday, January 5th 2009. The Israeli military offensive entered its 10th day in Gaza, with the death toll reaching 534 by Monday, these stories and more coming up, stay tuned. The News Cast The Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza reported that Israeli Army shelling on the Gaza Strip this morning has left 17 Palestinians dead. The Ministry has said that among the 17 killed this morning were five children and a family of seven, who were killed when Israeli jet fighters shelled their home. Also on Monday, Israeli tanks invading Gaza shelled the home of Arafa Abed Al Dayim, killing four people and injuring at least 40 others.

Israel arrests newsman with Iranian TV for prematurely reporting on IDF entry into Gaza
Jonathan Lis and Gili Izikovich, and DPA, Ha’aretz 1/6/2009
A reporter for Iranian television was arrested by Israeli authorities on Monday for a dispatch which broadcast news of the Israel Defense Forces’ entry into the Gaza Strip. The journalist is alleged to have violated military censorship laws which forbade the news media from releasing information during the initial stages of the ground incursion. The reporter, a resident of the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Ras al Amud, was questioned by the police international investigations unit. He turned himself into authorities via his attorney. Israel maintains ban on entry of foreign journalists into Gaza The Ministry of Defense refused to allow foreign correspondents to cross over from Israel into the Gaza Strip on Monday, despite a court ruling, a representative of the foreign media in Israel said.

Police investigating Arab journalist who reported Gaza op early
Yaakov Lappin, Jerusalem Post 1/5/2009
An Arab reporter from east Jerusalem employed by an Iranian TV channel is being investigated by the Police’s National Serious and International Crimes Unit over suspicions that he violated a censorship decree and reported on the entrance of IDF ground forces into Gaza, hours before the media was permitted to mention the ground operation. An Israel Police spokesman said it was too early to say whether the reporter would be arrested, adding that the investigation was still ongoing. [end]

IOF troops kill Palestinian, wound others in different West Bank cities
Palestinian Information Center 1/5/2009
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- The IOF troops on Sunday killed a Palestinian young man and wounded others during marches held in different West Bank cities in protest at the Israeli military aggression on the Gaza Strip. Palestinian medical sources said that a 20-year-old young man called Mufid Walwil was shot dead and others were wounded during confrontations with the IOF troops in Qalqilya. Another Palestinian citizen called Talal Hawamdeh was wounded when an Israeli soldier shot him in the right thigh during protests in Al-Khalil city. In Ramallah, thousands of Palestinian citizens chanted slogans in solidarity with the Gaza people during a massive angry march called for by all national forces. The protesters called on the resistance factions to retaliate strongly to the Israeli aggression on Gaza in the West Bank. Dr.

Israeli forces seize four Palestinians near Jenin
Ma’an News Agency 1/5/2009
Jenin – Ma’an – Israeli forces seized on Monday morning four Palestinians from the West Bank town of Qabatiya, south of Jenin, and the village of Al-Araqa west of Jenin. Palestinian security sources told Ma’an that Israeli forces raided both towns and ransacked several homes before arresting Shadi Hammad from Al-Araq and Nur Zakarna, Tayseeer Zakarna, Yousif Kameel from Qabatiya. Witnesses said Israeli soldiers fired stun grenades and gunshots into the air. Israeli media outlets reported on Monday that Israeli forces arrested 25 youths from the West Bank, citing the Israeli military, without giving details. [end]

The Israeli military kidnaps four civilians from Jenin and nearby village
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 1/5/2009
Four Palestinian civilians were kidnapped by the Israeli military during a morning invasion, which targeted the northern West Bank city of Jenin, and nearby Qabatiya town and Al Arrafa village. In Al Arrafa, north of Jenin, Israeli troops stormed the village and searched a number of homes before taking Shadi Hammad to an unknown location. Meanwhile, another military force searched homes in Qabatiya town, south of Jenin city, and kidnapped three civilians, Nur Zakarnah, age 23, Taysser Zakarnah, age 25, and Yousif Ikmeel, age 24. [end]

Major battles reported on northern outskirts of Gaza City
Ma’an News Agency 1/6/2009
Gaza/Jerusalem – Ma’an Exclusive – A fierce battle between Israeli forces and Palestinian fighters raged in the northern outskirts of Gaza City just after midnight on Tuesday morning. The Israeli military confirmed that a major a confrontation is taking place in the area, Al-Jazeera reported. Near constant explosions have been lighting up the sky over the northern Gaza Strip. The apparent battle took place as Israeli tanks and ground troops pushed deeper into the Gaza Strip on the tenth day of an offensive that has killed more than 530 Palestinians, and wounded more than 2,500. As night fell on Monday, Israeli troops had encircled Gaza City after approaching the metropolis from four directions, but appeared not to be invading the center of the city. Israeli warplanes continue to pound Gaza, including the city center, from the air.

Hamas adamant to strike back at IDF
Ron Ben-Yishai, YNetNews 1/6/2009
Fighting in Strip intensifies as IDF kills some 100 terrorists. Hamas steps up attempts to target IDF forces, fights back with mortar fire, snipers, explosives - IDF forces continued to pummel Hamas Monday, as Operation Cast Lead’s 10th day saw numerous clashes between Israeli troops and Hamas gunmen in several terror hubs in northern and central Gaza. Sources estimated that somewhere between 80 and 100 terrorists were killed Monday, and 100 wanted gunmen were apprehended and taken in for interrogation. Hamas seems to have intensified its attempts to strike back at the advancing forces, utilizing mortar fire, snipers and booby trapped building and gunmen strapping explosive belts, to that effect IDF sources reported of several cases in which suicide bomber lunged at the troops but failed to detonate.

Israel closes in on Gaza City
Al Jazeera 1/6/2009
Israeli troops have tightened their military grip on the Gaza Strip as the war on Gaza enters its 11th day. Air and naval bombardments killed 45 Palestinians on Monday, bringing to 548 the number of Palestinians killed since the offensive began on December 27. Three Israeli soldiers were killed and 24 wounded in the battles around Gaza City on Monday night, the Israeli military said early on Tuesday. The military said an errant tank shell fired by its own forces hit the soldiers’ position. The deaths were the biggest blow to Israel’s military since it launched its ground assault on Saturday, with only one other soldier killed in the previous two days. Nonetheless, witnesses told Al Jazeera that the Israeli ground offensive was closing in on Gaza City, where Israel believes most of the Hamas leadership to be.

Three IDF soldiers killed, one critically wounded in Gaza blast
Amos Harel Fadi Eyadat, Yanir Yagna, and Avi Issacharoff, Ha’aretz 1/6/2009
Three Israel Defense Forces soldiers from the Golani brigade were killed and about 20 others wounded, one critically, after an errant IDF tank shell hit a building in which they were operating. The friendly fire incident is the most grave so far for IDF troops in 10 days of Operation Cast Lead. IDF battalion commander Colonel Avi Peled was lightly wounded in the incident, but refused to be taken for treatment and directed the evacuation of all the wounded troops and called in artillery fire and IAF air strikes on enemy targets before evacuating himself from the scene. The number of Palestinian dead Monday was estimated at about 100, although no official figure has been given. The IDF tightened its hold Monday over the outskirts of the built-up area of Gaza City as it traded fire with Hamas militants.

Gaza: 3 soldiers killed, 20 injured in friendly fire incident
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 1/6/2009
Friendly fire in northern Gaza claims lives of three soldiers, leaves one critically injured, three in serious condition; 24 others sustain minor injures - Cleared for publication: Three IDF soldiers were killed and 24 others were injured, one critically and three seriously on Monday evening, in a friendly fire incident in northern Gaza. Among the fatalities were two officers and a soldier. Colonel Avi Peled, commander of the Golani Brigade sustained minor injuries in the incident. The injured were triaged and cared for on site before being airlifted to the Chaim Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer, Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheba, Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem and the Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva. All of the families have been notified.

Four killed as Israeli forces shell market in Al-Bureij Refugee Camp.
Ma’an News Agency 1/6/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – Israeli artillery shelling killed four people and wounded 16 others in a market in Al-Bureij Refugee Camp in the Gaza Strip late on Monday, witnesses told Al-Jazeera. The killings bring the total number of Palestinians killed on Monday to 46. Israeli tanks reportedly fired three shells into the market. Heavy shelling and airstrikes continues across the Strip. [end]

70 Palestinians killed on ninth day of the Gaza holocaust
Palestinian Information Center 1/5/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- IOF troops stepped up its campaign of terror and murder against the civilian population of the Gaza Strip and killed 70 civilians on Sunday, raising the number of Palestinians killed to 520. After a number of its tanks and soldiers were ambushed by the Palestinian resistance, the Israeli occupation took its revenge on civilians by targeting houses. Medical sources said on Sunday that since the start of ground offensive, on Saturday night the number of Palestinians killed reached seventy, 23 of them children in addition to a number of women and old people. A hundred others were wounded. The same sources said that the vast majority of the casualties were civilians, and that ambulance teams could not reach some areas that came under attack because of the continued shelling from air, sea and land. In the northern Gaza Strip the IOF troops shelled a number of homes killing 12 people, including two children.

10th day under attack: death toll in Gaza reaches 534
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 1/5/2009
The Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza reported that Israeli Army shelling on the Gaza Strip this morning has left 17 Palestinians dead. The Ministry has said that among the 17 killed this morning were five children and a family of seven, who were killed when Israeli jet fighters shelled their home. Medics reported that the family members where left to bleed to death because the ambulances could not reach them due to Israeli shelling in the area. On Monday, Israeli tanks invading Gaza shelled the home of Arafa Abed Al Dayim, killing four people and injuring at least 40 others. Local sources said that Abed Al Dayim was killed on Sunday when the ambulance he works in was attacked by the Israeli Army. Following his funeral, Palestinians gathered today in his home to pay their respects. Meanwhile, the death toll in Gaza by Monday reached 534 with 2,530 injured including 300 in critical condition.

7 IOF tanks destroyed, one helicopter downed and 11 soldiers killed
Palestinian Information Center 1/5/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, said on Sunday night that its fighters killed 11 IOF soldiers and wounded 48 others since the start of the land offensive 24 hours ago. The sources said that five soldiers were killed on Saturday night and six others were killed on Sunday, amongst them an officer with the rank of Colonel. The Israeli occupation admitted to only one soldier being killed and 30 others wounded. Meanwhile, Abu Ahmad, the spokesman of the Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad, said that Palestinian resistance factions managed to destroy seven IOF tanks int eh Zaitoun neighbourhood of Gaza City, pointing out that the invading troops fell in many ambushes carefully prepared by the Palestinian resistance. Abu Ahmad added that the battle has not started yet as there are thousands of resistance fighters waiting for the invading forces.

Day Ten: Israeli fire kills 14 members of two families
Ma’an News Agency 1/5/2009
531 dead - 2,500 injured - Gaza City surrounded - Some 50 Palestinians lost their lives on Monday, while Israel’s invasion of the Gaza Strip sparked armed Palestinian groups to launch dozens of projectiles across the border. Israeli shelling in the Gaza Strip on Monday morning killed 14 members of two families whose homes came under fire. Israeli ground troops, backed by tanks, bulldozers, and helicopters have now encircled Gaza City and cut the Gaza Strip in two. On Monday the Israeli defense minister declared the City “partially besieged. ”Palestinian fighters continue to exchange fire with Israeli troops, primarily in northern towns and the outskirts of densely-populated Gaza City. Ma’an’s Gaza correspondent added that dozens of artillery shells landed in residential houses in the Az-Zaytoun neighborhood and east of Jabalia Refugee Camp.

Israeli army moves on Gaza City
Middle East Online 1/5/2009
GAZA CITY - Israeli troops and Hamas fighters battled in Gaza on Monday amid tank, artillery and air strikes, as Israel pressed on with its assault on Hamas and world leaders stepped up efforts to end the conflict. French President Nicolas Sarkozy was due to arrive in Israel for talks on how to end one of its deadliest offensives in Gaza in decades, which has killed more than 515 Palestinians, dozens of them children. Israeli infantry units backed by tanks and helicopters took up positions around Gaza City after effectively cutting the coastal strip into two by taking control of the main roads leading into the capital, witnesses said. The troops exchanged fire with Hamas militants, fighting against the deepest Israeli thrust into Gaza since it unilaterally withdrew from the coastal territory more than three years ago.

Palestinian fighters launch projectiles at Israeli towns, resist invasion
Ma’an News Agency 1/5/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – Palestinian fighters continues to fire homemade projectiles into Israel on Monday despite ten days of intense Israeli military operations in Gaza the Israeli government says is aimed at stopping the rockets. Amongst the targets was an Israeli air force base which Palestinian military organizations say was targeted for the first time. According to Israeli sources, a Grad missile landed on Monday in near the coastal city of Ashdod, and six homemade projectiles landed in Ashkelon, also on the coast, closer to Gaza. Several mortar shells also landed in the Shaar Hanegev area east of the Strip. There were no reports of casualties. Hamas’ military wing, Al-Qassam Brigades claimed responsibility for firing two Grad missiles at an air force base called Hatsur in Kiryat Malachi for the first time.

32 rockets fired at southern Israel
Shmulik Hadad, YNetNews 1/5/2009
Grad missiles strike Ashkelon, Ashdod, Beersheba, Sderot; one hits empty kindergarten, causing heavy damage. Nine people lightly injured, several people suffer shock. Earlier, a number of rockets hit western Negev - Rocket fire continues:A Grad rocket hit an empty kindergarten in the port city of Ashdod on Monday afternoon. An air raid siren sounded in Ashdod and Ashkelon at around 3:20 pm. Several people suffered shock, but there were no injuries. The place was heavily damaged. David Nahaisi, a resident of the city, parked his car across the street from the kindergarten when he heard the siren. "I ran to my friend and a few other people who were standing there. I shouted, ’Get in the shelters’ but they said, ’There’s no way it will fall here’. After I pushed them all inside we heard the loud explosion.

Gaza: 7 soldiers wounded
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 1/5/2009
Four IDF soldiers suffer mediocre wounds, three others lightly hurt in gunfights in Strip; Palestinians report of over 530 wounded - Clashes between IDF soldiers and Palestinian gunmen in the Gaza Strip continued Monday: Four soldiers suffered moderate wounds and three others were lightly hurt in gunfights in Strip. All seven were hospitalized. According to Palestinian reports, the casualties in Gaza now number over 530. Gaza sources also reported that a mother and her three children were killed Monday, after a shell hit their Gaza City home. Israel Navy ships targeted a rocket launcher hidden inside a bunker overnight. The IDF said that the Air Force and Navy actions have significantly diminished Hamas’ fire on Ashkelon and northwards, but noted it could not stop it altogether.

2 Israelis injured in rocket attack on western Negev
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 1/5/2009
Mortarfired at Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council results in two people sustaining injuries; troops patrolling northern Gaza clash with Hamas gunmen -Two Israelis were injured Monday after a mortar shell fired from northern Gaza hit the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council. The injured were rushed to local hospitals. Monday evening also saw heavy gunfire erupt in northern Gaza, as IDF troops operating in the Strip clashed with Hamas gunmen. The IDF is said to be using heavy artillery in the exchange; and several Palestinian gunmen have reportedly been injured. Palestinian sources in Gaza reported the IDF bombed a government compound in the center of Gaza City. Head of the Palestinian Emergency services in Gaza said that 50 Palestinians were killed in Monday’s fighting.

Netivot mayor demands to have pre-school centers in bomb shelters
Shahar Ilan, Ha’aretz 1/5/2009
Netivot mayor Yehiel Zohar urged the defense establishment Monday to open pre-school centers in bomb shelters. Zohar told members of the Knesset Interior Committee, who visited the rocket-battered town Monday, that the setting up of pre-school facilities would enable parents to leave the shelters. Meanwhile, Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai said plans to enable the opening of pre-school centers were underway. Zohar stated Monday that 50 percent of the city’s residents were not properly protected, adding that many of the city’s buildings were built from timber or had tiled roofs, and therefore provided weak protection against rocket fire. Zohar emphasized that the most vulnerable sectors of the population, including old people and new immigrants, live in these homes.

Israeli army trained for 18 months for Gaza assault
Middle East Online 1/5/2009
TEL AVIV - The Israeli army trained for its ground attack against Gaza for 18 months on a model of the main city built at a desert army base, a military spokesman said Sunday. "Our soldiers know all the back streets where their targets are," military spokesman Avi Benayahou told Israeli public television. "For a year and a half our soldiers trained on a reduced model of Gaza City built on the Tsehilim base" in the Negev desert of southern Israel, near the frontier with Gaza, he added. Gaza City was virtually surrounded on Sunday, one day after tens of thousands of Israeli forces entered the territory. "We have already dealt some very major blows on Hamas but we will have to hit again and the operation could take time," the spokesman said without giving details. Print

Israel says dozens Palestinians seized in Gaza invasion
Ma’an News Agency 1/5/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli soldiers have dragged dozens of Palestinian fighters and residents across the border with Gaza for interrogation, according to Israeli news reports. Since Israel’s land invasion that started late on Saturday night, forces have detained members of armed groups in clashes with invading soldiers, Israel TV said on Monday. A reporter for the network reported that as many as 100 Palestinians have been arrested during the recent invasion, and that the Israeli government considers the Gaza residents "illegal combatants. " Other sources quoted Israeli troops on Monday, saying they tend to arrest "as many Palestinians as possible" in order to retrieve information that "may lead to the capture of other armed groups’ members. "

Gaza war diary: No restraint
Alan Fisher in southern Israel, Al Jazeera 1/5/2009
Driving along the road listening to Israeli radio, the programmes in this part of the world are suddenly and frequently interrupted by alerts. "Siren in Sderot, Siren in Sderot," says the woman with the deep voice in Hebrew. This is the first warning that rockets are on their way. From the sound of the first warning people have 15 seconds to find some sort of shelter. In towns like Sderot, there are missile shelters dotted around. They are mainly a concrete cylinder, with two concrete walls at either side. It is very primitive but offers a measure of security from the barrage that is currently heading there. And it is attacks like this that the Israeli army says it wants to end. The people in Gaza have nothing like that to save them.

Israel kills more than 520 Palestinians after ten days of aggression on Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 1/5/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- More than 520 Palestinians were killed including children and at least 2, 500 others were wounded after 10 days of ongoing Israeli military aggression on the Gaza Strip. Palestinian medical sources told the PIC that most of the victims killed by Israel were civilians including about 120 children and 50 women, pointing out that the ambulance crews were not able to reach some bombed areas to recover bodies under the rubble of homes as a result of the ongoing Israeli bombardment.   The sources said that dozens of citizens and families were killed and wounded after the IOF troops razed their homes with missiles and shells fired from tanks, warplanes and warships in one of the most brutal scenes.

VIDEO - Israeli troops and Hamas fighters clash in streets of Gaza City
Rory McCarthy in Jerusalem, Haroon Siddique, The Guardian 1/5/2009
Israeli soldiers and Hamas militants fought gun battles in the streets of Gaza City for the first time this morning, leaving at least 10 children dead as the offensive against the Palestinian territory continued. Gaza health officials reported 537 people dead, including some 200 civilians, since Israel embarked on its military campaign against Hamas Islamists on 27 December. A further 2,300 people have been reported injured. Today’s fighting, with Israeli troops now going house to house searching for Hamas fighters, came as Israeli forces seized control of large parts of the Gaza Strip, dividing the territory and forcing tens of thousands of people to flee their homes under relentless artillery and gunfire.

Israel: Soldiers thwarted attempted capture during Gaza invasion
Ma’an News Agency 1/5/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli soldiers managed to rescue one of their own on Monday afternoon when Palestinian fighters ambushed a group of invading forces from a tunnel. Israeli television Channel Two reported that soldiers successfully resisted the attempted capture, despite the efforts by two Palestinian armed groups. Soldiers reportedly opened fire on the armed Palestinians, forcing them to release the nearly-captured soldiers before fleeing. Earlier this week, Hamas leader Abu Ubayda said that "in case Israeli aggression continues," Palestinian fighters would capture Israeli soldiers. “Shalit might have several companions,” he warned. [end]

Report: Six Israeli soldiers injured in Gaza City
Ma’an News Agency 1/5/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Six Israeli soldiers were injured in clashes with Palestinian resistance fighters at the Zaytoun neighborhood of Gaza City at dawn. According to Radio Israel, the soldiers were moderately injured, yet an Israeli electronic website said two soldiers were evacuated to Beilinson Hospital near Tel Aviv by helicopter. In a different regard, Israeli TV affirmed that military censorship prevented Israeli and international journalists from interviewing Israeli soldiers who were injured in the Gaza Strip. In general the Israeli military is making very little information about their operation public. [end]

Hamas gunman captured by IDF troops taken to Beersheba hospital
Jerusalem Post 1/5/2009
A Hamas operative who was captured during the second day of ground operations in the Gaza Strip on Monday was taken to Soroka Hospital in Beersheba to be treated for his wounds. The man arrived at the hospital blindfolded and surrounded by Israeli security forces. He was quickly ushered past reporters and camermen and in through the front gate. Dozens of Hamas gunmen have been captured since the ground incursion began on Saturday, the IDF announced on Monday. However, only one was known to be treated at a civilian hospital in Israel for wounds sustained during the fighting. [end]

Israeli sources: Five Israeli soldiers injured during clashes with resistance fighters in Gaza
IMEMC News & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 1/5/2009
The Israeli military announced that five Israeli soldiers where injured on Monday during armed clashes with Palestinian resistance fighter in Gaza. The sources said that the five soldiers sustained light wounds and were moved to hospitals inside Israel for treatment. According to the Israeli Army, Israeli soldiers were clashing with resistance fighters in Beit Lahiya and Beit Hanoun in the northern part of the Gaza Strip on Monday. Moreover, the Israeli Army announced that Israeli air forces shelled 30 targets overnight, and Monday at dawn. [end]

Court orders home of Jerusalem yeshiva terrorist sealed off
Tomer Zarchin, Ha’aretz 1/6/2009
The High Court of Justice on Monday approved the army’s request to seal off part of the East Jerusalem house belonging to the family of a terrorist who gunned down eight students at the Mercaz Harav yeshiva in Jerusalem last March. Judge Miriam Naor ruled in favor of a petition by Israel Defense Forces, which called for the court to legitimatize the demolition or sealing off of terrorists’ homes. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Barak have announced their support for the demolition of Jerusalem terrorists’ homes after a string of terror attacks were perpetrated in the capital by residents of East Jerusalem. In recent years, however, Israel has refrained from razing homes in East Jerusalem. Alaa Abu Dhaim shot and killed seven teenage boys and one 26-year-old, and wounded nine others, when he burst into the Mercaz. . .

Collective action continues as tanks roll into Gaza
Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, Stop The Wall 1/5/2009
Palestinian mobilization all across the West Bank continued yesterday, even as the Occupation’s massacre in Gaza intensified and tanks were rolling into Gaza. The ongoing collective action gives voice to the unified Palestinian condemnation of the Occupation’s heinous crimes, and solidifies their resistance to the continuous repression that they face. Hebron district saw several demonstrations and other actions take place, as national and Islamic activists came together to call for a general strike to protest the attacks in Gaza. Near Hebron city, the Al Fawar refugee camp was the site of a large demonstration last night, with hundreds of people joining the protest. Further clashes occurred in the village of Yatta, south of Hebron, where 26 year-old Thalal Ali was injured by Occupation forces. Similar violence from Occupation forces occurred in Qalqilya, where. . .

Jayyous rises up in support of Gaza
Stop The Wall 1/5/2009
In the latest of a series of demonstration organized in Jayyous by the Grassroots Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, over 800 people gathered to protest the Wall and to show their solidarity with the people of Gaza. January 2rd was the largest of Jayyous’ demonstrations so far, as the people condemned all forms of Zionist aggression. The march began with demonstrators moving from the main mosque to the entrance of the village, and then back towards the centre of the village. There, speeches were given from the mayor and other community members, all of whom denounced the slaughter in Gaza. The protestors then moved towards the south gate of the Apartheid Wall, which confiscates much of the village’s farmland. Occupation forces were waiting at the gate, and as the demonstrators approached, the forces began shooting tear gas and sound bombs.

Demonstartions in Tubas for solidarity with Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 1/5/2009
Tubas – Ma’an – A crowded demonstration took place in Tubas on Monday, in protest of the ongoing Israeli atrocities in the Gaza Strip. The event was organized by local Mayor Dr Sami Musallam and Tubas Governor Iqab Daraghmeh. The demonstration toured the streets in solidarity with the people of the Gaza Strip. Demonstrators held banners calling for national unity and ending the Israeli aggression in Gaza.

Border Control / Settler justice
Akiva Eldar, Ha’aretz 1/6/2009
Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court Judge Malka Aviv emerged from her anonymity a month ago, in the wake of her decision to release arrested Hebron settler Ze’ev Braude, who is suspected of having shot Palestinians after the evacuation of the "House of Contention" and wounding a father and son. Aviv reprimanded the police, who had fallen captive, in her opinion, to a conception that was delivered by the media with the broadcast of a video recording of the incident. She argued the police were lenient with the Palestinians who were involved in the incident and promised that she would not lend a hand to, "the custom of favoritism that is so outrageous. " District Court Judge Orit Efal-Gabai did not accept Braude’s claim that he had acted in self-defense and ordered that he be kept under house arrest. She also rejected Judge Aviv’s favoritism argument and noted that even if the police had. . .

Two Israelis wounded by Gaza mortars in western Negev
Haaertz Service and The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 1/6/2009
Two Israelis in the western Negev town of Sha’ar Hanegev were wounded by a Palestinian mortar shell fired from the Gaza Strip on Monday. The injuries were not believed serious. Palestinian militants in Gaza also fired a barrage of at least 34 Qassam and Katyusha rockets at southern Israel on Monday, after a night of relative calm. One of the rockets, fired mid-afternoon, exploded in a kindergarten in Ashdod. The playground was empty at the time of the attack, and no casualties were reported, though the attack did cause extensive damage to the structure. Magen David Adom ambulance crews transported five people to hospital, where they received treatment for shock. The kindergarten, which is affiliated with the Shas educational network of schools, was completely destroyed as a result of the attack.

Tunnels -- the secret weapon for Hamas
Kim Sengupta and Ben Lynfield in Jerusalem, The Independent 1/6/2009
Israel’s ground offensive is reaching a critical stage where its forces may soon have to face Hamas fighters on their chosen killing ground, the narrow, winding alleyways of Gaza City. Despite the days of relentless air strikes, Israeli commanders admit that the Islamist movement still has large quantities of weapons and up to 20,000 trained men to use in a bloody campaign. The Hamas arsenal has been smuggled in through the intricate network of tunnels that dip under the Egyptian border, a network that has also provided the economic lifeblood for the Palestinian territory suffering from severe and punitive sanctions imposed by Israel. The fact that these tunnels have played a key role in keeping Hamas in political and military power has made them not only targets of Israeli attacks but also a key issue in any ceasefire.

Civilian toll soars as troops and tanks press into Gaza
Rory McCarthy in Jerusalem, The Guardian 1/6/2009
Israeli forces were locked in heavy fighting in northern Gaza last night with intensive artillery strikes and jet bombing in the north and across Gaza City as the military pledged to press on with its attack. On the 10th day of the conflict, Israel’s defence minister Ehud Barak insisted his country’s troops had not finished their operation despite mounting Palestinian casualties and growing international calls for a ceasefire. "Hamas has so far sustained a very heavy blow from us, but we have yet to achieve our objective and therefore the operation continues," Barak said. Israeli forces have already pushed deep into Gaza but last night appeared to be stepping up their fight, with witnesses reporting wave after wave of bombing strikes across the north of the territory accompanied by gunfire from helicopters and artillery from land and sea.

Hamas takes fight to the streets of Gaza
Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem, The Independent 1/6/2009
Heavy fighting was under way in the north of Gaza City last night as the Israeli Defence Minister, Ehud Barak, pledged to continue the war against Hamas -- entering its 10th day -- until "peace and tranquility" returned to the south of his country. Residents in the territory’s main city reported heavy ground and air bombardments that were sending plumes of smoke into the air as flares and fires lit up the night sky above the northern district of Zeitoun where some of the most intense engagements were believed to be taking place. There were unconfirmed reports last night that up to nine Israeli soldiers had been killed or seriously injured in Gaza. The Israeli government refused to confirm the reports, saying only that eight soldiers had been injured. In the first acknowledgement that heavy exchanges of fire had taken place on Gaza streets between troops and. . .

Hamas looks to Hezbollah’s inspiration
Sami Moubayed, Asia Times 1/6/2009
DAMASCUS - The similarities between what is taking place in Gaza today, and what took place in Lebanon in 2006, are striking. Both wars were waged by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) against a small military group, seen as "heroes and resistance leaders" by the Arab world, labeled as "terrorists" by Israel and the United States. In both wars, Israel resorted to unconditional force, devastating Lebanon in 2006 and Gaza in 2008, and it seems like this war - just like 2006 - will last longer than most people expect. It won’t be that easy to eliminate Hamas from Gaza, however, because of its grassroots popularity, just like Israel was unable to destroy Hezbollah in Lebanon. In back-to-back speeches by Hezbollah secretary general Hassan Nasrallah during the first week of the current war on Gaza, he drew parallels between Hezbollah and Hamas.

Hamas urged to respond to Abbas’ dialogue offer
Ma’an News Agency 1/5/2009
Nablus – Ma’an – A Palestinian political activist and a member of the Committee for Coordination between Palestinian factions, Ghassan Hamdan on Monday called on Hamas leaders in Damascus to answer president Abbas’ call for dialogue in order to restore Palestinian unity and bolster the spirits of Palestinian fighters. “Hamas leaders in Damascus must answer president Abbas’ call for dialogue and coordination in order to stop Israeli aggression on our people in the Gaza Strip, because that will raise spirits of resistance fighters and give hope to all the Palestinian people,” Hamdan told Ma’an. Abbas and the Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership in the West Bank have called on rival factions to reenter unity talks in light of the Israeli onslaught in Gaza. The PA has also suspended political negotiations with Israel.

Over 2,000 take to streets of Haifa to protest IDF Gaza operation
Jack Khoury, Ha’aretz 1/6/2009
Over 2,000 demonstrators took part in a protest march in Haifa on Monday evening expressing opposition to the Israel Defense Forces offensive in the Gaza Strip. Police deployed significant forces in the area to provide security for the event. There were no reports of any disturbances. The demonstration ended with speeches from political activists and Haifa residents who called on the government to cease "the aggression and the massacre in the Gaza Strip. "Participants waved Palestinian flags, brandished photographs of Palestinian children killed during the operation, and chanted slogans denouncing the IDF. Police in Karmiel arrested a resident of the city for allegedly assaulting an officer during a demonstration in support of the IDF operation in Gaza.

Ahronoth: Israel started to look for a political solution to the war on Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 1/5/2009
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- Israel’s leading newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth said that the Israeli government has started to look for a political solution to the war after the first moments of the ground military operation against the Gaza Strip. The newspaper ruled out the expansion of the ground operation against Gaza for several reasons including that the international pressure, which is expected to reach its peak during this week, will prevent that. The newspaper added that the goal of the military operation against Gaza was to deal a deadly blow to Hamas to force it to accept Israel’s conditions for a ceasefire. The newspaper also underlined that according to the military plan, the IOF troops was supposed to advance into Gaza from three points so as to split it into four sectors. The newspaper pointed out that the Israeli military aggression on Gaza may continue due to the. . .

Hamas to Israel: You began killing your children the day you started killing ours
Ma’an News Agency 1/5/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – Addressing the public for the first time since the beginning of the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip, senior Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahhar spoke out against Israel, and encouraged fighters to continue their resistance. Palestinian homemade projectiles, manufactured by the hands of resistance fighters out of pipe and fertilizer destroy Israeli’s idea that their nation is secure, he said in a recorded message aired on Hamas’ Al-Aqsa TV. Speaking about Israel, Zahhar said, “They began killing their children when they killed ours. They began bombarding their hospitals when they bombarded ours. They began demolishing their synagogues when they demolished our mosques. You kiecked off the means for your termination with your very own hands,” he said. The problem is not that projectiles are being launched from Gaza, he said, but is rather the occupation and siege against Gaza.

Hamas: You cannot stop the rocket fire
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 1/5/2009
Militants continue threatening Israel with more rocket fire, abductions; say group’s stand on ceasefire nonnegotiable - Hamas chapters outside the Gaza Strip refuse to compromise the organization’s demands of a ceasefire with Israel. "Our position is clear. We insist all aggressive military actions against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip stop, we demand all the troops be pulled back, the lifting of the siege and the opening of all crossings, with Rafah first," said Osama Hamdan, of Hamas Lebanon, in an interview with al-Jazeera television. "This is the basic equation. This is our position and we hope the Egyptians will have a positive message, he added. "Israel has found that it cannot eliminate the resistance," added Hamdan. "Israel cannot stop the rocket fire, even after 10 days of aerial assaults, navy fire and attacks on the ground – the rocket fire has not stopped.

Olmert: We do not aim to topple Hamas
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 1/6/2009
PM meets French president, stresses ending Hamas’ rule in Strip not one of Gaza offensive’s objectives. operation aims to change security situation in south, rid Israelis of terror, says Olmert - Prime Minister Ehud Olmert stressed Monday that the objectives of Operation Cast Lead do not include toppling Hamas’ regime in the Gaza Strip. Olmert, who met Monday evening with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, said that "(Israel) did not set out to eliminate Hamas’ rule in Gaza, though we can do that too. " Sarkozy arrived in Israel earlier Monday morning, in an attempt to see if a ceasefire can be brokered between Israel and Hamas. "We defined a limited objective to this operation and that is to change the security situation in the south and rid hundreds of thousand of citizens from the fear of terror" said Olmert.

Hamas official: We must lay foundation for a tomorrow without Zionists
News agencies, Ha’aretz 1/6/2009
Leading Hamas official Mahmoud a-Zahar urged Gaza Strip residents Sunday to bear the IDF offensive, saying Hamas will prevail in the end. "Victory is near, the problem is not the missiles, but the occupation and the siege," a-Zahar said. A-Zahar called on Israel to halt its aggression, withdraw its forces from Gaza and to open border crossings. He made the comments on Hamas television network al-Aqsa. It is unclear where the interview took place, or if the recording was made in advance. The Hamas minister praised the organization’s fighters, saying it was their duty to smash the "Zionist enemy". He also hinted that the group’s armed wing would try to strike at Israeli civilian targets. "Israel is preparing for the slaughter of its citizens, just as it is killing our people in the Gaza Strip," he said.

President-elect Obama says he’s being updated on Mideast
Associated Press, Jerusalem Post 1/5/2009
President-elect Barack Obama said on Monday that he was getting daily briefings on the situation in the Middle East, where Israel continues its offensive against the Hamas rulers of Gaza. In brief comments to reporters, Obama said that "delicate negotiations are taking place," and that there can’t be "two voices coming out of the United States. " [end]

In the US, Gaza is a different war
Habib Battah, Al Jazeera 1/5/2009
The images of two women on the front page of an edition of The Washington Post last week illustrates how mainstream US media has been reporting Israel’s war on Gaza. On the left was a Palestinian mother who had lost five children. On the right was a nearly equally sized picture of an Israeli woman who was distressed by the fighting, according to the caption. As the Palestinian woman cradled the dead body of one child, another infant son, his face blackened and disfigured with bruises, cried beside her. The Israeli woman did not appear to be wounded in any way but also wept. Arab frustration - To understand the frustration often felt in the Arab world over US media coverage, one only needs to imagine the same front page had the situation been reversed.

Report on Sunday’s Free Gaza protest in Portland, one of hundreds held worldwide
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 1/5/2009
Around 250 people gathered Sunday afternoon in downtown Portland. The protesters were mainly from Portland’s Arab-American community. Supporters from the peace and justice community were also present at the protest, which crowded the sidewalks on both sides of the street for nearly two blocks. Protesters chanted "stop killing children!" "Occupation is a crime, from Iraq to Palestine!" And "the media is lying, while Gazan kids are dying!" The demonstrators marched around the square several times during the 2 hours of protest. Many held homemade signs, some of which read, "Massacre in Gaza: Made in USA!" And "end US Support for Israel" and "ceasefire now. "The ages of the protesters ranged from families with small babies to elderly couples shivering in the bitter cold and snow that started falling halfway through the event.

Bush: Israel has right to protect itself against Gaza attacks
Ha’aretz 1/6/2009
WASHINGTON - U. S. President George W. Bush said Monday that he understands Israel’s desire to protect itself, offering his first public comments about the U. S. ally’s massive ground invasion into Gaza. Israel has moved tanks and troops into Gaza to target Hamas militants firing rockets at its southern communities. From the White House, Bush said Monday that Israel has the right to defend itself against rocket attacks by Gaza rulers Hamas. The president said he is still hopeful there will be a cease-fire, calling it "a noble ambition. "But, he said, no peace deal will work unless it forces Hamas to stop its attacks. Meamwhile, the White House said Monday that the United States wants a cease-fire as soon as possible but insists that it be durable. White House spokeswoman Dana Perino, while backing Israel’s Gaza offensive. . .

Jordan and Egypt should take over Palestine - Bolton
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 1/6/2009
WASHINGTON: Former acting US ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton said Monday that settling the Arab-Israeli conflict on the basis of a two-state solution was no longer workable and suggested splitting Palestine between Egypt and Jordan. "Let’s start by recognizing that trying to create a Palestinian Authority from the old PLO [Palestine Liberation Organization] has failed and that any two-state solution based on the PA is stillborn," Bolton wrote in The Washington Post. "Hamas has killed the idea, and even the Holy Land is good for only one resurrection. "Hamas won parliamentary elections deemed fair by international observers in 2006 but was boycotted by the West for refusing to give up armed resistance against Israeli occupation. A two-state solution has been officially adopted as the basis for solving the Middle East conflict by all interested parties, including Israel and the administration of US President George W.

POLITICS: Bush Plan Eliminated Obstacle to Gaza Assault
Analysis by Gareth Porter, Inter Press Service 1/6/2009
WASHINGTON, Jan 5(IPS) - Until mid-2007, there was a serious political obstacle to a massive conventional war by Israel against Hamas in Gaza: the fact that Hamas had won free and fair elections for the Palestinian parliament and was still the leading faction in a fully legitimate government. But the George W. Bush administration helped Israel eliminate that obstacle by deliberately provoking Hamas to seize power in Gaza. That plan was aimed at getting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to dissolve the democratically elected Hamas government -- something Bush had tried unsuccessfully to do for many months. Hamas won 56 percent of the seats in the Palestinian parliament in the January 2006 elections, and the following month, the Palestinian Legislative Council voted for a new government under Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.

Mahathir blames US for Gaza war
Al Jazeera 1/5/2009
Malaysia’s former prime minister has blamed the US for backing Israeli military aggression against Palestinians in Gaza, saying it makes the US "much more guilty than even the Israelis". Mahathir Mohamad, long known for his anti-West views, on Monday said that no matter how clever or powerful Israel was it would not be able to carry out the offensive without US support. "The backing by the US gives it encouragement to do all these things which I think ordinary Americans would not like to see them do," Mahathir said in an interview with Al Jazeera. "Israelis believe it they go to war there is this big brother that is going to come with the weapons, with the money, so they don’t care what the world thinks. " He also suggested a boycott of the greenback as a way to pressure the US, saying that if the US is impoverished "it cannot undertake all these aggressive acts.

Abbas: Ending Israeli Gaza assault PA’s top priority
Ma’an News Agency 1/5/2009
Ramallah – Ma’an – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas asserted on Monday that priority would be given to stopping Israeli aggression on Gaza immediately and without conditions. Abbas’ comments came during a meeting held in the central West Bank city of Ramallah on Tuesday with International Quartet Middle East envoy Tonny Blair and deputy Russian Foreign Minister Alexander Sultanov. Chief negotiator of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Saeb Erekat, said in a statement following the meeting that President Abbas would head to the UN Security Council seeking a resolution to stop the Israeli offensive against the Gaza Strip. Erekat welcomed Egyptian steps toward resuming Palestinian national dialogue in efforts to unite rival factions in the West Bank and Gaza. For his part, Blair said the Quartet has been contacting every side in efforts to bring an end to the disastrous situation in the Strip.

Emir of Qatar: IOF aggression Gaza war crime
Palestinian Information Center 1/5/2009
DOHA, (PIC)-- Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, the Emir of Qatar, has charged that the Israeli occupation forces’ aggression on the Gaza Strip constituted a war crime that necessitated Arab moves to stop it. Sheikh Hamad in a televised address on Sunday night told the Israeli leaders that the "killing of civilians and innocents will not bring you security but rather catastrophic results". Any ceasefire in the Gaza Strip should include lifting the siege and opening all crossings, he elaborated. The previous calm did not prevent Israel from assassinations and incursions and the Gaza Strip turned into a concentration camp, the Emir underlined. He describe the siege on Gaza as "illegal and inhuman", expressing surprise that legal justifications were put forth to justify an "illegal siege". The Emir finally renewed his country’s call for an emergency Arab summit to adopt a stand against the IOF aggression.

Aid gets to Gazans, sometimes
Ma’an News Agency 1/5/2009
Bethlehem - Ma’an -Whether or not international aid gets to those in most need depends largely on Israel’s decision to open and close crossings, and whether Israeli fire prevents aid organizations from operating. On Sunday a Palestinian Authority spokesperson said Israel would open the Kerem Shalom cargo crossing and the Nahal Oz fuel crossing for the transfer of humanitarian supplies. On Saturday UNRWA announced that all crossings into the Strip were closed and food distribution was cancelled. The Palestinian Red Crescent works around the clock to distribute international aid coming through the Rafah crossing. It is not clear whether the crossing is still open. Egyptian Consul General in Ramallah Ashraf Akel said Saturday that Rafah has been open and sending aid in since the first days of the Israeli strikes, though as of Monday was unable to comment on the situation at the border.

Israel to open Gaza crossings to allow food, fuel
Ma’an News Agency 1/5/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israel will briefly open two border crossings with the Gaza Strip to allow food, fuel, and medical supplies, even as Israeli forces continue to bombard the territory. Hussein Ash-Sheikh, the Palestinian Authority’s Civil Affairs director in Ramallah announced on Sunday night that the Kerem Shalom cargo crossing and the Nahal Oz fuel crossing would be open. Israel has a near-total blockade of Gaza by land, sea, and air since November. According to the United Nations, most of the Strip’s 1. 5 million people are without electricity since the power plant shut down to a lack of fuel. Swamped with the dead and wounded and operating with minimal supplies, Gaza’s hospitals are at the breaking point. The Israeli government circulated a statement Monday morning saying that 80 truckloads of medical supplies, medication, and food including donations from Greece,. . .

UN secretary-general presses Israel on Gaza crossings
Ma’an News Agency 1/5/2009
Bethlehem - Ma’an - United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon called on Israel to open the Karni and Nahd Oz crossings into Gaza for humanitarian aid on Tuesday, according to a statement. Ki-Moon also recalled his Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Robert Serry, to New York in hopes that he might bring the secretary-general up to speed on what is being done to alleviate what some are calling a humanitarian catastrophe in the Gaza Strip. "I also convened a meeting of my senior advisors as part of the ongoing response of the United Nations to all aspects of the crisis," Ki-Moon said in a statement sent to Ma’an. "I believe the United Nations, in particular the Security Council, has a central role to play in bringing a speedy end to the conflict," the secretary-general said. "I will be working actively with members of the Council and other key. . .

World press dismayed over assault on Gaza
Middle East Online 1/5/2009
HONG KONG - International media expressed dismay Monday over the dramatic escalation of Israel’s Gaza offensive and condemned the world’s failure to formulate a diplomatic response. As Israeli troops battled Hamas fighters in Gaza, newspapers from London to Sydney lamented the 10-day attack which has left hundreds dead and voiced fears it had torpedoed attempts to build a lasting peace. The Financial Times said Israel was taking a "dangerous gamble" that would probably cut the number of rockets fired from Gaza, "but if Israel proposes to cut the heart out of its most implacable Palestinian opponents, it will fail. " London’s Independent said international calls for a ceasefire must offer something more concrete than "hand-wringing platitudes. " The Daily Mail, sometimes accused of being anti-Muslim, said Israel could be forgiven for taking action against Hamas but warned:. . .

EU diplomats seek elusive Gaza truce in Egypt
Middle East Online 1/5/2009
SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egupt - An EU mission seeking to broker an end to Israel’s Gaza onslaught held talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Monday ahead of a similar visit by French President Nicolas Sarkozy. "Talks with Mubarak were about the situation in Gaza, the means of reaching an immediate ceasefire, a reopening of crossing points and a return to the truce," Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit told journalists. Hamas on Monday said it would also send a delegation to Egypt, the first such contact with key regional mediator Cairo since fighting began 10 days ago. Egypt brokered a previous six-month truce which ended on December 19, heralding the latest violence in which more than 500 Palestinians and five Israelis have been killed. The EU mission headed by Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, whose country holds the European bloc’s rotating presidency,. . .

PICTURE GALLERY / Gaza incursion sparks protests around world
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 1/6/2009
PHOTOS - From Montreal to Rabat, thousands of people have taken to the streets to decry Israel. Nonetheless, there are a few expressions of support. [end]

Mauritania recalls ambassador from Israel in wake of Gaza offensive
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 1/6/2009
The government of Mauritania is recalling its ambassador from Israel in the aftermath of the invasion of Gaza. Mauritania is one of only three Arab League countries to have diplomatic ties with Israel. Foreign Ministry spokesman Babah Ould Sidi Abdalla said Monday that Mauritania’s ambassador in Tel Aviv had been ordered to return for consultations. Abdalla declined to comment further and did not explicitly say the move was made in protest. On Sunday, security forces fired tear gas to disperse people in Mauritania’s capital who were protesting the incursion into Gaza. At least 10 civilians and several riot police were injured and hospitalized, according to an Associated Press reporter at the scene. Related articles: Livni: Israel will no longer show restraint when attackedTurkey wants international monitors. . .

Jordan’s Queen Rania calls for aid to Gaza
AFP, YNetNews 1/5/2009
Jordanian queen condemns killing of Palestinian children in Gaza, calls on governments to contribute to refugee agency, saying ’Gaza’s children are not acceptable collateral damage’ - Jordan’s Queen Rania, who is of Palestinian origin, appealed Monday for urgent aid for the residents of the Gaza Strip, saying that global humanity is "incomplete" when children become victims of military operations. Speaking at a joint news conference with UN officials in Amman, she called on governments to contribute to the Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA emergency appeal for 34 million dollars (25 million euros) to meet the immediate needs of Gaza’s innocent civilians, caught up in Israel’s onslaught against Hamas. "Gaza’s children, the dead and the barely living, their mothers, their. . .

Egypt denies Gathafi’s son to head to Gaza
Middle East Online 1/5/2009
TRIPOLI - Egyptian authorities denied permission for Seif al-Islam, son of Libyan leader Moamer Gathafi, to fly into El-Arish airport to reach the Rafah crossing to Gaza, the Gathafi Foundation said late Sunday. Seif al-Islam wanted to visit the embattled Gaza Strip via the Rafah terminal "to express his support for the Palestinian people," according to an official from the Foundation, which the leader’s son heads. He contacted the Egyptian authorities on Saturday seeking clearance to land at El-Arish but they turned him down because of "fears for his safety," the Foundation official said. It was Seif al-Islam’s second attempt to go to Gaza, the official said. The Foundation also said two Libyan aircraft arrived at El-Arish on Sunday to evacuate Palestinians wounded by Israel’s air and ground attack on the Gaza Strip.

Fifty arrested for organising protests
Hadeel Al-Shalchi, Associated Press, in Cairo, The Independent 1/6/2009
Police have arrested 50 members of the opposition group the Muslim Brotherhood for organising protests in Cairo against Israel’s military incursion into the Gaza Strip. A security official said that yesterday’s arrests followed calls by the outlawed Brotherhood to its members and to other opposition groups to stage more demonstrations to protest against the Israeli offensive. Demonstrations have been held across Egypt since Israel moved its troops into Gaza on 27 December. In some cases, police have clashed with protesters and made arrests. The country has a border with Gaza, where more than 500 Palestinians have been killed and about 2,000 wounded as a result of the Israeli offensive. Israel says the objective of the incursion is to prevent Palestinian fighters from firing rockets at its southern towns. Hamas, the militant Palestinian organisation that runs the Gaza Strip,. . .

ANALYSIS / Egypt emerges as big winner from Gaza crisis
Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 1/6/2009
Egypt is the big winner, for the moment, from the conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Despite fierce attacks against it of a magnitude not seen since the signing of the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty in 1979, it appears that the Egyptian gamble has again paid off: the heads of Hamas in Damascus are scheduled to arrive in Cairo to discuss the situation, in a move that signifies a bowing of the head toward Egypt, the most "stable island" in the camp of moderate Arab nations. In Europe, the United States and also Israel, it is understood that Egypt is the only source that can fill the role of pipeline of information to Hamas, both in regard to the organization’s head in Egypt and its leaders in the Gaza Strip. Unlike the Turks, Qataris and Saudis, the Egyptians ? and especially the head of the intelligence service Omar Suleiman - have intimate contact with the Hamas heads.

Report: Iran using Gaza op to push out reformists
Dudi Cohen, YNetNews 1/5/2009
Persian reformist newspaper accuses Ahmadinejad government of using Palestinian problem ’as weapon’ against reformist bodies after shutting down newspaper accused of reporting misinformation about Palestinian fighters in Gaza - "The Iranian government headed by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is using the excuse of ’defending the Palestinians’ as a weapon to act against civil bodies," Roozonline, a Persian reformist newspaper said. According to the report, one of the actions taking by the Iranian government recently was the banning of the country’s leading reformist newspaper Kargozaran, which is linked to one of Ahmadinejad’s most prominent political rivals, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. The government accused Kargozaran of reporting misinformation about Palestinian fighters in Gaza. In addition, on Thursday, dozens of students belonging to the Basij movement, which is subordinate. . .

Iran: We have 70,000 suicide bombers ready to strike Israel
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 1/6/2009
More than 70,000 Iranian student volunteers have registered to carry out suicide bombings against Israel because of Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip. According to the official IRNA news agency, hardline student leader Esmaeil Ahmadi says the students want to fight Israel in support of Hamas - Gaza’s Islamic militant rulers. Five hard-line student groups and a conservative clerical group launched a registration drive last week to ask the government to allow them to stage the suicide attacks. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s government has not responded to the call yet. The government never responded to similar requests in the past. This raises the likelihood that the calls are mainly for propaganda purposes #newsletterLink a {text-decoration: none; cursor: pointer;} #newsletterLink img {border:0px;} #newsletterLink{width:470; margin-bottom:20px;} .

PA workers to receive salaries on Tuesday
Ma’an News Agency 1/5/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The Palestinian Authority (PA) will disburse salaries to its employees on Tuesday, said Bassam Zakarneh, the head of the public employees union. Zakarneh said the union is following up with the PA in hopes of raising salaries in light of tough political and economic times. The PA employs over 100,000 people in the West Bank and the Hamas-governed Gaza Strip. Since the Hamas takeover in June 2007, PA employees in Gaza have still been paid although many do not report to work in order to show loyalty to the Ramallah based PA and undermine the Hamas-run local government. [end]

Finance Minister: Economy won’t hold back defense
Globes Online 1/5/2009
Ronnie Bar-On: The army will lack for nothing. We don’t know now how much the war will cost. "Defense always costs money, but the economy won’t hold back defense. We’ll solve it; we’re a strong country, even if we’re facing an economic crisis. We can sort this out. The army and the defense forces will lack for nothing needed to achieve our goals," Minister of Finance Ronnie Bar-On told “IDF Radio" (Galei Zahal). Bar-On went on, "I speak with authority that this campaign has not gone one millimeter too far, there has not been one millimeter of exaggeration, not one millimeter of euphoria. " Bar-On dismissed reports of disagreements between the Ministries of Finance and Defense over the financing of the campaign and the call-up of IDF reservists. "There is no discussion between the Ministries of Finance and Defense at this time.

Israel’s right wing tries to block Arab Movement party application for elections eligibility
Ma’an News Agency 1/5/2009
Jerusalem – Ma’an – A right wing Israeli political party applied to the central elections committee to prevent an Arab party from running in the coming elections. Israeli rightist party “National Union” on Sunday applied for the Israeli central elections committee asking cancellation of the United Arab Movement for Renewal” and preventing its participation in the coming Knesset elections. The application, submitted by the National Union Party, alleged that the Arab Movement for Renewal Party does not recognize Israel as a Jewish state and supports armed struggle in anti-Israel countries. Commenting on the application, chair of the Arab Movement Dr Ahmad Tibi, said, “We are used to such applications by the Israeli right wing, which does not like the fact that the Arab population is represented by Arab members of Knesset.

Farmers claim half-billion shekels in damage so far
Amiram Cohen, Ha’aretz 1/6/2009
Farmers have been forbidden to work their fields in areas four kilometers from the border with the Gaza Strip, and in some areas up to 10 kilometers. The earth remains unsowed, crops remain unharvested and unsprayed with pesticides, whether the chemical is delivered from terra firma or air. Timing is crucial in agriculture and Operation Cast Lead broke out at one of the most critical times of the year - not when strawberries ripen, but when agricultural exports are at their height. The kibbutzim and moshavim near the Gaza Strip grow about 70% of Israel’s tomato crop, most of which is exported. They are responsible for 60% of the nation’s potatoes, 30% of its peppers - red, green or colored - and a considerable proportion of the radishes and carrots sold in the markets. The region also has extensive flower cultivation, again most of which is exported.

Economic situation puts reservists’ jobs in danger
Shay Niv, Globes Online 1/5/2009
By law, an employer may not fire an employee who is serving in the IDF reserves until at least 30 days after his discharge. While tens of thousands of IDF reservists have been called up for combat in Operation Cast Lead in Gaza or to respond to a possible flare-up in the north, concern is growing that some employers will try to fire them, as happened during the Second Lebanon War in 2006. This time, however, the economy is in the throes of a recession and a wave of layoffs in a range of industries. It will be hard, for example, for a laid-off high-tech employee to prove that he was fired because of reserve duty rather than as part of cutbacks at his company. By law, an employer may not fire an employee who is serving in the IDF reserves until at least 30 days after his discharge, unless the Ministry of Defense employment committee approves it.

Lev Leviev refuses to reveal minutes of Africa Israel board
Amit Benaroia, Ha’aretz 1/6/2009
"The minutes of Africa Israel board meetings belong to the company, which is a mammoth publicly traded corporation, run by the board and the CEO," writes Africa Israel controlling shareholder Lev Leviev, in his motion for permission to appeal to the Supreme Court, filed last week. Leviev is doing everything in his power to prevent the publication of the board’s minutes, considered evidence in a legal battle in which a Bank Leumi shareholder is trying to prove that Leviev purchased Africa Israel shares from Leumi while concealing essential information. In February 2006, Leumi sold a 15. 83% stake in Africa Israel to Leviev for NIS 1. 1 billion. According to Leumi shareholder Azi Refaeli, Leviev did not inform the bank that Africa Israel’s Russian real estate division was worth $3 billion. Refaeli contends that this withholding of information caused the bank. . .

Iran leader warns Iraqi PM against US pact
Middle East Online 1/5/2009
TEHRAN- Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Sunday warned Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki against a security pact with the United States, the official IRNA news agency reported. "Americans do not have a real friendship even with their close allies in the region so their promises should not and cannot be trusted," Khamenei told Maliki, who was on a two-day visit to Tehran. "The presence of US and British forces in Iraq is the main source of terrorism and internal disputes," he added. "One of the United States’ main objectives is to create a base for a long term presence and rule in the region," the leader was quoted as saying. He added that the Iraqi government needed to prove it "will not retreat from Iraqis’ national interests with the enemy’s intimidation and threats. " Maliki’s fourth visit to Iran since he took office in 2006 was his first since. . .

US opens new embassy in Iraq
Missy Ryan and Khalid al-Ansary, Reuters, The Independent 1/6/2009
A new fortress-like US embassy has been inaugurated by the American ambassador, Ryan Crocker. Mr Crocker said the $700m (£480m) embassy was testimony to America’s commitment to a long-term friendship with Iraq, where about 146,000 US troops are deployed. In recent weeks US diplomats have gradually moved into the newly built compound, the world’s largest US embassy, leaving behind a sprawling palace they had inhabited since toppling Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in 2003. US officials had ruled Iraq directly from the palace for a year after taking Baghdad, and their continued presence there was seen by many Iraqis as a symbol of occupation. The opening of the new embassy is in line with a change of power that was effected on New Year’s Day, when US forces in Iraq officially came under an Iraqi mandate. US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani attended the opening ceremony.

New US embassy inaugurated in Iraq
Al Jazeera 1/5/2009
Under tight security in Baghdad, US Marines have raised their flag over the world’s largest American embassy. During an inauguration ceremony on Monday, US officials said the $700m state-of-the-art complex will usher in a new era of relations with Iraq, which it invaded nearly six years ago. The ceremony was held a day after a suicide bomber killed at least 38 people at a Shia shrine just 6km north of the new embassy. On Monday, four bombs went off in different parts of Baghdad just before noon, killing four people and injuring 19 others. Last week, the Green Zone - the walled-off swath of central Baghdad - was formally turned over to the Iraqi government, whose authority the US military will now operate under, according to an agreement that took effect on January 1.

A setback for Obama’s plans
Jim Lobe, Asia Times 1/6/2009
WASHINGTON - Israel’s massive week-long aerial assault on Gaza and subsequent ground invasion are likely to complicate president-elect Barack Obama’s hopes of aggressively pursuing Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, and risk inflicting greater damage to Washington’s standing in the Arab world, according to most analysts in Washington. Indeed, if the current campaign goes on much longer, Obama could face a major international crisis - comparable to Israel’s failed 2006 war against Lebanon’s Hezbollah - just as he takes office on January 20. " With this assault, the fallout has already started to spread considerably beyond the constituency of people who are Palestinians," noted Helena Cobban, a veteran Middle East analyst who cited popular protests in Egypt, Jordan and elsewhere in the Arab world on her blog, justworldnews.

U.S.: Networks’ Int’l News Coverage at Record Low in 2008
Jim Lobe, Inter Press Service 1/6/2009
WASHINGTON, Jan 5(IPS) - Despite two wars involving more than 200,000 U. S. troops and a global economic crisis, foreign-related news coverage by the three major U. S. television networks fell to a record low during 2008, according to the latest annual review of network news coverage by the authoritative Tyndall Report. Squeezed out by intense coverage of the presidential election campaign and the domestic consequences of skyrocketing oil prices and the subsequent credit crisis, international and overseas events received by far the least attention from the 30-minute evening news programmes of the three networks -- the primary source of national and international news for most U. S. citizens -- of any since the report was first published in 1988. "This was an exceptional year for domestic news, so the test will be whether the foreign coverage rebounds in a year when there is relatively. . .

Syria: Israel proved it doesn’t want peace
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 1/5/2009
Foreign Minister Moallem visits Turkey, calls on international community to put Israeli leaders on trial over ’war crimes’ - Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem defined the Israeli operation in the Gaza Strip as "a barbaric act any way you look at it" and called on the international community "to try those responsible to these war crimes which violate international law, including the Geneva Treaty. " In a joint press conference with his Turkish counterpart Ali Babacan after completing a series of meetings in Ankara, Moallem said, "I came to Turkey to discuss ways to bring about an immediate ceasefire, a removal of the blockade and the opening of all crossings, as well as finding a mechanism to achieve these goals. "I stress to you that our opinions are similar and that we have formed a joint stance. " Moallem once again slammed

Qatar accuses Israel of ’war crime’ in Gaza
Middle East Online 1/5/2009
DOHA - The emir of Qatar, the only Gulf Arab monarchy to have trade relations with Israel, accused the Jewish state of committing a "war crime" in Gaza and renewed a call for an extraordinary Arab summit. "The Israeli aggression against our people in the Gaza Strip is a war crime," Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani said late Sunday in a televised address. He renewed an earlier call on fellow Arab leaders to hold an extraordinary summit in support of Gaza, as Israel escalated its offensive on the territory which has killed more than 515 Palestinians. "The mobilisation on the Arab street and several peace movements in the world have proven that this is the least the people expect from us. I believed and still do that we can do something," the emir said. "The horrors befalling the Gaza Strip oblige the (Arab) nation and its leaders to move," he added.

Anglo Arab Organisation slams Israel’s Gaza raids
Middle East Online 1/5/2009
LONDON – The Anglo Arab Organisation (AAO), a Non Governmental Organisation set to build economic and cultural bridges between the people of the Arab World and the West, strongly condemned the Israeli strikes against Gaza. Almost 100 children are among the 555 Palestinians killed since Israel started air raids on December 27, emergency services said. More than 2,700 people have been wounded. "Like all peace loving people, the Anglo Arab Organisation strongly condemns the horror inflicted by the mighty Israeli armoury that causes ferocious killing and maiming of innocent people of Gaza," read a statement from the AAO. "The indiscriminate Israeli hostility not only caused losses of hundreds of lives, but also eradicated the prospect of any peaceful and enduring outcome of the current deadlock in the search for a peaceful resolution," it added.

Mauritania calls back Israel ambassador for talks
Reuters, YNetNews 1/5/2009
One of few Arab nations to hold relations with Israel announces that following IDF operation in Gaza, it has called back its ambassador in Tel Aviv for consultation -Mauritania has called back its ambassador to Israel for consultation, a source at the Foreign Ministry said on Monday. Protesters took to the streets of the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott last week to demand that the Islamic country sever diplomatic ties with Israel after the Jewish state launched a military offensive in the Gaza Strip. "We have recalled our ambassador in Tel Aviv for consultations," said the source who declined to be named, adding that the ambassador was on his way back. The northwest African state is one of only three Arab countries to have diplomatic relations with Israel, along with Egypt and Jordan.

Parliamentary elections set for single day: June 7
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 1/6/2009
BEIRUT: Lebanon will hold parliamentary elections on June 7, the Interior Ministry announced on Monday. "The Ministry of Interior announces the promulgation of a decree calling on voters to elect legislators," a statement said. It added that the vote would take place on Sunday June 7, rather than it being held on separate days for different regions, as has been the case in previous Lebanese elections. The election is considered important as it could well see Hizbullah and its allies win a majority of the seats in Parliament. Such an outcome would deal a major blow to the Western-backed parties which won a majority in the last elections in 2005 on the back of a wave of anti-Syrian sentiment following the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Hizbullah and the March 14 Forces ran on the same electoral lists in 2005.

Hackers take battle with Hamas to cyberspace
Noa Parag, Globes Online 1/5/2009
Campaigns have been launched to crash Hamas servers. Pro-Palestinian hackers are attacking Israeli websites. An Israeli Internet initiative is recruiting surfers for cyberwarfare to crash hostile websites. Help Israel Win is inviting users to download a file that can overload Hamas servers, causing them to crash. 5,000 people have joined this effort so far. The website states, "We’re a group of students who are fed up sitting on the sidelines and seeing the residents of Sderot and communities near the Gaza Strip suffer. We set up this special project aimed at unifying the computer power of as many users as possible. The goal is to apply this ability to disrupt the activity of an enemy that seeks Israel’s destruction. " Another site, Winnet, has launched a similar campaign.

Shari Arison down NIS 1.5b on share deals since 2006
Eran Peer, Globes Online 1/5/2009
The losses are in shares in Arison Holdings, Bank Hapoalim, and Salt Industries. Shari Arison has lost more than NIS 1. 5 billion on shares inArison Holdings Ltd. Bank Hapoalim(TASE: POLI; LSE:80OA), and Israel Salt Industries Ltd. (TASE: SALT) she bought since 2006. In March 2006, Shari Arison bought the stake of Shlomo Nehama in Arison Holdings, and during 2007, she bought shares in Bank Hapoalim and full control of Salt Industries for NIS 3 billion. An examination by "Globes" found that the plunge in Bank Hapoalim’s share price has reduced the value of the shares she bought by 46% (excluding a dividend of NIS 106 million). The total value of Shari Arison’s shares has fallen by NIS 1. 05 billion. In addition, the value of the shares purchased from Nehama has fallen by an estimated two-thirds.

December vehicle deliveries down 54%
Dubi Ben-Gedalyahu, Globes Online 1/5/2009
Vehicle deliveries in 2008 were nevertheless slightly higher than in 2007. 6,964 vehicles were delivered in Israel in December 2008, 54% fewer than in December 2007, and almost half the monthly average last year, according to the Israel Motor Vehicles Importers Association, on the basis of licensing figures. The drop in vehicle deliveries in the fourth quarter did not offset strong deliveries in January-September. 194,226 vehicles were delivered in all of 2008, 1. 6% more than in 2007. 156,698 cars were delivered in 2008, less than 1% fewer than in 2007. Off-road vehicle deliveries rose 18% to 16,100 in 2008, and deliveries of commercial vehicles, excluding pick-up trucks, rose 7. 3% to 15,455. A breakdown of deliveries by brand showed that Mazda was the lead brand, with 31,461 deliveries in 2008, 12% more than in 2007.

Mutual funds’ assets fell NIS 23b in 2008
Tamar Koblenz, Globes Online 1/5/2009
In December alone, the amount managed by the funds fell by NIS 500 million. Israel’s mutual funds industry saw a further reduction in assets under management in December, ending 2008 in deep crisis. Mutual funds’ assets under management fell by NIS 23 billion last year to NIS 97. 3 million, a five-year low, according to Israel Securities Authorityfigures. Nearly NIS 10 billion of the reduction in assets was due to withdrawals, and the rest was due to falls in value. In December alone, the amount managed by the funds fell by NIS 500 million, though the fall was smaller than in the preceding months. Excluding assets under management in money market funds, the situation of the mutual funds industry is even grimmer: its assets under management shrank by NIS 52 billion in 2008, a reduction of 46%.

FILM: 1982 Massacre Rendered Through Dark, Distorted Lens
Ali Gharib, Inter Press Service 1/6/2009
WASHINGTON, Jan 5(IPS) - Recently opened in wide release in the United States, Ari Folman’s new animated documentary detailing Israeli involvement in the Sabra and Shatila massacre sheds new light on the Israeli side of that conflict, as well as the one unfolding today. "Waltz With Bashir", already an award-winning documentary and the official Israeli submission for best foreign language film to the U. S. Academy Awards, gives the perspective of Israeli Defence Force (IDF) soldiers and their involvement in the events in West Beirut in 1982. It’s a harrowing tale of post-traumatic stress disorder. And while the events of Sabra and Shatila are distinctly different than the current situation in Gaza, there are lessons to be learned from a quarter-century ago. The film opens with pack of 26 snarling dogs running down a street.

IMEMC’s Saed Bannoura on Public Access TV - Portland
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 1/5/2009
Portland Oregon Public Access program featuring guests speaking to the recent Israeli massacres of Gaza civilians. Program also features video footage of Portland demonstrations urging peace in Gaza. Guests are Saed Bannoura, a Palestinian with International Middle East Media Center, (www. imemc. org) and William Seaman, with Portland Peaceful Response Coalition ( www. pprc-news. org ) and American Jews for a Just Peace (www. ajjp. org. ) The interview was conducted on January 2, 2008. [end]


Conditioning Gaza: preparing to deploy international forces in Palestine?
Hani Asfour, Daily Star 1/6/2009
      The Israeli attack on Gaza is likely timed to coincide with the February elections in Israel and this month’s inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama in anticipation of launching a comprehensive Middle East peace plan. The ultimate goal of the Gaza invasion is to create the conditions to introduce international troops into Palestine. Part of the purpose is to prop up the regime of President Mahmoud Abbas and allow the Palestinian leader to extend his mandate across all of Palestine. By calling for international military support, Abbas is seeking to end both the violence and the Israeli occupation at once. The hope is that he will re-establish his legitimacy and provide the grounds for a two-state solution as prescribed in President George Bush’s 2002 UN Security Council Resolution 1397, "of two States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side within secure and recognized borders," a proposition openly rejected by Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement, and Likud, the Israeli right-wing party.
     The idea for an international military intervention was first proposed by Martin Indyk, the former US ambassador to Israel under presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush 43, in a 2003 Foreign Affairs article, "A Trusteeship for Palestine?" The main idea is to replace the Israeli occupation with an international force that would train and guide the Palestinians into self-rule, while ensuring the security of both Israel and Palestine.

This brutality will never break our will to be free

Khalid Mish'al, The Guardian 1/6/2009
      For 18 months my people in Gaza have been under siege, incarcerated inside the world’s biggest prison, sealed off from land, air and sea, caged and starved, denied even medication for our sick. After the slow death policy came the bombardment. In this most densely populated of places, nothing has been spared Israel’s warplanes, from government buildings to homes, mosques, hospitals, schools and markets. More than 540 have been killed and thousands permanently maimed. A third are women and children. Whole families have been massacred, some while they slept.
     This river of blood is being shed under lies and false pretexts. For six months we in Hamas observed the ceasefire. Israel broke it repeatedly from the start. Israel was required to open crossings to Gaza, and extend the truce to the West Bank. It proceeded to tighten its deadly siege of Gaza, repeatedly cutting electricity and water supplies. The collective punishment did not halt, but accelerated - as did the assassinations and killings. Thirty Gazans were killed by Israeli fire and hundreds of patients died as a direct effect of the siege during the so-called ceasefire. Israel enjoyed a period of calm. Our people did not.

Bring in the peacekeepers? It’s not as easy as it sounds

Robert Fisk, The Independent 1/6/2009
      Do I hear the braying of the UN donkey in Gaza? On his Middle East tour, the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, may well be mentioning that well-known Eeyore figure on the East River, always so willing to send its peacekeepers on Mission Impossible. The Palestinians have been trying to internationalise their conflict with the Israelis ever since Yasser Arafat pleaded for UN forces to protect the Palestinians after the failure of the Oslo agreement.
     Always the Israelis have refused. The very odd observer force which the EU installed in Hebron after Baruch Golstein had massacred Palestinians at the mosque – its patrols regularly interrupted by the Jewish settlers of this very odd city – simply faded away. And the United Nations Relief and Works Agency has been throwing tents and food and school classes at the slums of Palestinian refugee camps for generations. Can it be that yet another Israeli failure in Gaza will change the dynamics of "peacekeeping" in the Middle East, that at last the ghost of Arafat will watch the "internationalisation" of the Israeli-Palestinian war.

Israel’s blonde bombshells and real bombs in Gaza

Yosefa Loshitzky, Electronic Intifada 1/5/2009
      "I reiterate that we will treat the population [of Gaza] with silk gloves"
     - Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert I am not sure that most people understand the meaning of the name "Operation Cast Lead" chosen by Israel for its murderous and criminal attack on Gaza. The name is borrowed from a Hebrew nursery rhyme which was (and may still be) very popular among Israeli children in the 1950s. In this song, a father promises to his child a special Hannukah gift: "a cast lead sevivon." Sevivon, in Hebrew (A dreidel in Yiddish) is a four-sided spinning top, played with during the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. Somebody, in the Israeli army, who apparently feels nostalgic about his childhood, decided that if Israeli kids would enjoy a sevivon cast from lead there is no reason why Palestinian children would not appreciate it too. After all Operation Cast Lead is not the first (and unfortunately, will not be the last) of Israel’s cruel war games.
     The cynicism embedded in the name, selected for what Ari Shavit, one of Israel’s most celebrated commentators, called "an intelligent, impressive operation," is symptomatic to the cold, meticulous and calculated cruelty with which this attack was "designed," "executed" and "marketed" to the world. As the perpetrators themselves proudly boast, Operation Cast Lead is not only a great military victory but also a success story of Israeli hasbara (meaning in Hebrew, explanation, but practically referring to misinformation, spin and lies).

Disarming Palestine

Issa Khalaf, Palestine Chronicle 1/5/2009
      ’Everything is being done to ensure instability, radicalism, conflict and suffering.’ Those of us who originate from that unholy land, are gripped by helplessness, disgust and depression during those recurring depredations inflicted on the Palestinians, as they are now in Gaza, whose inhabitants had been systematically starved and reduced to misery for years.It’s as if the most insightful, humane reflection, all the rationality and political analysis, is inadequate to explain the horrors that unfold with awful predictability. What possible higher, self-righteous political or moral purpose does raining death and destruction on men, women, children, and babies serve? How does such utter violence and cruelty achieve dignity and security for Israelis and Palestinians? During such times, such puerile insanity, it’s almost comforting to escape into karmic meaning: what goes around comes around, and those who mindlessly, repetitively wreak pain and torment on others, will inescapably reap what they sow. This is both profoundly true and profoundly dangerous, for, in the interminable hiatus, it encourages both despairing resignation, as if men and women are incapable of acting with reason and humanity to solve their conflicts with others, and zealous violence, as if there is no other recourse to injustice but carnage.

Water, sewage system 'collapsing' in Gaza, says official

Report, Electronic Intifada 1/5/2009
      GENEVA (IRIN) - The UN has warned that power networks were down in large parts of the Gaza Strip on 4 January, with hospitals relying on generators. Without power for pumps, 70 percent of Gazans are estimated to be without tap water.
     Israel has been blocking fuel supplies, and stocks are dwindling, the latest (4 January) report by the UN’s humanitarian coordinator in the occupied Palestinian territories said.
     The Israeli Gisha organization, a non-governmental organization, said seven of the 12 electricity lines in the enclave (the 12 lines normally supply about 70 percent of Gaza’s electricity) were down, and warned that the lack of power was causing sewage to flood into populated areas and farmland. There continued to be a risk of sustained flooding.
     "The water and sewage system in Gaza is collapsing, cutting people off from the water supply and causing sewage to flood the streets," said Maher al-Najjar, deputy director of Gaza’s water utility, CMWU. He also said 48 of Gaza’s 130 wells were not working at all due to lack of electricity and damage to pipes. "At least 45 other wells are operating only partially and will shut down within days without additional supplies of fuel and electricity," al-Najjar said.

Affidavit from Gaza

Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 1/5/2009
      I, the undersigned, Maher Najjar, having been put on notice that I must tell the truth and nothing but the truth and that if I do not do so, I will be subject to criminal penalties under the law, hereby declare as follows:
     1. My name is Maher Najjar. I am the Deputy Director of the Coastal Municipalities Water Utility (CMWU). I write this affidavit in support of a request and/or court petition that the Israeli authorities provide fuel and electricity to vital humanitarian institutions in Gaza.
     2. The Coastal Municipalities Water Utility is the Semi public utility that runs the water and sewage systems in Gaza. We rely on electricity and fuel to run the system.
     3. The water and sewage system is in a very vulnerable state. Especially since June 2007, severe restrictions on the entry of goods into the Gaza Strip have disrupted the functioning of the water and sewage system in Gaza, including spare parts.

The Gaza Ghetto Uprising

Joseph Massad, Electronic Intifada 1/4/2009
      One is often baffled by the ironies of international relations and the alliances they foster. Take for example the Israeli colonial settlement that had declared war on the Palestinian people and several Arab countries since its inception while at the same time it built alliances with many Arab regimes and with Palestinian leaders.
     While Hashemite-Zionist relations and Maronite Church-Zionist relations have always been known and documented, there has been less documentation of the services that Israel has provided and continues to provide to Arab regimes over the decades. It is now recognized that Israel’s 1967 invasion of Egypt aimed successfully to destroy Gamal Abdul-Nasser, the enemy of all US dictatorial allies among the Arab regimes, whom the US and before it Britain and France had tried to topple since the 1950s but failed. Israel thus rendered a great service to Arab monarchies (and a few republics) from "the ocean to the Gulf," whose survival was threatened by Nasser and Nasserism. Israel’s subsequent intervention in Jordan in 1970 to help the Jordanian army destroy Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) guerrillas and its final crushing of that organization in its massive invasions of Lebanon in 1978 and 1982 were also important services it rendered to these same regimes threatened by the PLO’s "revolutionary" potential and its sometimes recalcitrant positions. Israeli intelligence has also provided over the decades crucial information to several Arab regimes enabling them to crush their political opposition and strengthen their dictatorial rule. Prominent examples among recipients of Israeli intelligence largesse include the Moroccan and the Omani dictatorships.

Our spirit will not die

Sami Abdel-Shafi, The Guardian 1/5/2009
      Yesterday morning, I hurried up to the rooftop of my home to catch a glimpse of the sun rising. Columns of black smoke stretched sideways over Gaza’s horizon, eerily symbolising how Israel’s ground assault has already inflicted more indiscriminate suffering on ordinary people.
     I reflected how the fireball resulting from utter political failure among Palestinians, within Israel and, to an extent, internationally, has landed in the laps of Gaza’s civilians. Within seconds, the deep and breathtaking sound of shelling from the sea forced me back downstairs.
     By mid-morning on Sunday, about 12 hours into the incursion, Israeli troops were said to have reached the outskirts of Jabalia - a city and a refugee camp with a combined population of 200,000 - with Apache helicopters firing high-calibre rounds into the camp alongside the incoming artillery fire. But Gaza City, where I live, is no safe haven, being only about 8km from Jabalia, and 3km from fighting in the east.
     Nine days into the war, and after 800 reported raids over Gaza, it often seemed as though Israeli air force hangars must have been empty as its aircraft hammered us, knocking even the lucky survivors out of their senses.

Resisting to protect our own

Safa Joudeh writing from the occupied Gaza Strip, Electronic Intifada 1/5/2009
      The evening of 3 January, we realized that if there was any truth to Israeli war minister Ehud Barak’s words, it’s that this invasion will be a long one. At approximately 9:15pm local time Israeli forces entered the Strip from three locations. From the east of Gaza City and the northern towns of Jabaliya and Beit Lahiya, tanks rolled into the Palestinian residential areas while Israeli F-16s created a cover from the sky. At the same time, Israeli tanks and infantry troops entered Rafah from the southeast, while tanks shelling and artillery fire rained on the Mintar area of Gaza City. Israeli warships were simultaneously barraging Gaza City from the sea. The entire Strip was surrounded and being heavily pounded by Israeli missiles and artillery fire.
     Many people were not even aware that the invasion had begun, thinking the whole time that Israel had just intensified its air raids. Gaza City has been without power for a few days now and radio batteries were running out. Almost all the residents of Gaza City have been confined to their homes for over a week and all of the stores have been closed. People are relying on word of mouth to get the news, very few are lucky enough to have generators and leftover fuel.

Gaza Coverage and the Informed Heart

Jaffer Ali, Palestine Chronicle 1/5/2009
      ’Does an informed heart engage in polemics?’ (Zoriah - The present Israeli onslaught in Gaza viewed through the prism of the mainstream western media has such an air of unreality. Israeli ’hasbara’ or propaganda efforts have even invaded the blogosphere. Over fifty blogs have direct access to Israeli officials to perpetuate the ongoing myth that Palestinians are to blame for the carnage.
     A visit to Google News to read headlines on the Gaza slaughter reveals the same distorted picture. Even "neutral" headlines and stories promote the twisted reality that Palestinians and Israelis share responsibility for the darkness. An endless stream of lies fills the air waves and Zionist apologists engage prejudices to promote their agenda.
     How can we transform the darkness all around into light?
     The world seems so cold with the only warmth to kindle fires being Israeli phosphorous bombs. How can an article or essay like this shed any light amidst the barrage of lies trotted out as facts? One can know the truth by more than information put out by any side.

Keeping out the cameras and reporters simply doesn’t work

Robert Fisk, The Independent 1/5/2009
      What is Israel afraid of? Using the old "enclosed military area" excuse to prevent coverage of its occupation of Palestinian land has been going on for years. But the last time Israel played this game – in Jenin in 2000 – it was a disaster. Prevented from seeing the truth with their own eyes, reporters quoted Palestinians who claimed there had been a massacre by Israeli soldiers – and Israel spent years denying it. In fact, there was a massacre, but not on the scale that it was originally reported.
     Now the Israeli army is trying the same doomed tactic again. Ban the press. Keep the cameras out. By yesterday morning, only hours after the Israeli army went clanking into Gaza to kill more Hamas members – and, of course, more civilians – Hamas was reporting the capture of two Israeli soldiers. Reporters on the ground could have sorted out the truth or the lie about that. But without a single Western journalist in Gaza, the Israelis were left to tell the world that they didn’t know if the story was true.

Why Hamas (and Hizbullah) Will be Difficult to Defeat

Rami G. Khouri, Middle East Online 1/5/2009
      BEIRUT -- Many analogies are being made between the ongoing Israeli attack against Hamas in Gaza and the 2006 war between Israel and Hizbullah in Lebanon. Here are the most important ones, in my view.
     The first is about provenance: Hamas and Hizbullah did not exist before around 1982. Their birth and strength must be understood largely as a response to Israel’s occupation and colonization policies in Palestine and Lebanon, alongside other secondary reasons.
     Hamas and Hizbullah are the ideological step-children of the Likud Party and especially Ariel Sharon, whose embrace of violence, racism and colonization as the primary means of dealing with occupied Arab populations ultimately generated a will to resist. The trio currently carrying on Sharon’s legacy of brutality -- Ehud Olmert, Ehud Barak and Tzipi Livni -- seem genetically blind to the fact that the more force and brutality Israel uses against Arabs, the greater is the response in the form of more effective resistance movements that have wider public support.

Global Rights Groups Protest Slaughter in Gaza

Stephen Lendman – Chicago, Palestine Chronicle 1/5/2009
      On June 16, 2008, noted Israeli historian Ilan Pappe explained "The Israeli Recipe for 2008: Genocide in Gaza, Ethnic Cleaning in the West Bank." He wrote:
     "Not long ago, I claimed that Israel is employing genocidal policies in the Gaza Strip." After re-thinking this highly-charged term, he "concluded with even stronger conviction: it is the only appropriate way to describe what the Israeli army is doing in Gaza" because of its repeated atrocities now greater than ever.
     In his January 3 "Israel’s Righteous Fury and Its Victims in Gaza" article, Pappe updates his outrage:
     Once again, "Israel is engulfed....with righteous fury that translates into destructive policy in the Gaza Strip. This appalling self-justification for the inhumanity and based first and foremost on sheer lies transmitted with a newspeak reminiscent of (Nazi Germany). Every half an hour," radio and TV bulletins call Gaza victims "terrorists and Israel’s massive (slaughter) self-defense."


Ran HaCohen - writer, teacher, Tel-Aviv University, International Middle East Media Center News 1/5/2009
     "Ramallah is not Auschwitz. Israel is not the Third Reich. We have no death camps and we haven’t massacred one third of the Palestinian population in gas chambers. Therefore, everything we do is quite all right. We may fill the occupied territories with tear gas and blood, we may kill and injure and torture and blackmail and dispossess, we may surround millions by electric fences and tanks in tiny enclaves, we may hold them under siege and daily bombing, we may make pregnant women walk to hospitals, and we shoot ambulances too, don’t we. But as long as we fall even an inch short of the atrocities of Nazi Germany, it’s all fine and good, and don’t you dare make the comparison."
     [political cartoon]